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DOE radwaste to Tennessee landfills?

I don’t know whether to castigate DOE for thinking of this in the first place, or congratulate them for having the good sense to drop the idea — I’m talking about the  idea of sending radioactively contaminated soil from New York state to the Chestnut Ridge landfill in Anderson County, documented in Saturday’s News Sentinel. The good news is that they dropped the idea.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management had an invitation-only conference call on Thursday about the idea of sending 6,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil to the Chestnut Ridge Landfill under the State of Tennessee’s “Bulk Survey for Release” program, under which they allow material with light rad contamination into a few state municipal landfills. According to conference call participants, the idea was not viewed favorably by the citizen-group participants, and on Friday DOE sent out an e-mail indicating that they had ditched the idea. The e-mailed information said:

On October 8, 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy conducted a teleconference briefing as part of an initial public outreach activity regarding the disposition path for the soils being removed as part of the clean-up of the North Field of the Separations Process Research Unit Project (SPRU) located in New York. This conference call was held consistent with the principles of the Department’s Environmental Management American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (“Recovery Act”) Program to assure complete openness and transparency in all of its work scope.

As noted during the briefing, the Department considered a waste disposition path for SPRU soils that included an option to use a facility located in Tennessee. Prior to a final decision on the disposal path involving the Recovery Act work, the Department began the public process to engage stakeholder groups from the perspective of the receiving location. Participants from the various stakeholder groups provided feedback during the conference call. The Department committed to consider the public comments and to provide additional information. In fulfillment of that commitment, the Department has decided to dispose of these soils in a licensed low-level radioactive waste facility.

I’m glad they dropped this —  it was a bad idea, but I think DOE deserves egg on its face for thinking it up in the first place. I suspect that the invitation-only conference call was an attempt to keep things quiet, but News Sentinel reporters got the story anyway. Trying to keep this quiet also looks like a bad idea on DOE’s part.

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One Comment

  1. […] turns out that DOE’s conference call (see previous post) was not really an “initial public outreach activity” (other than the fact that it was […]

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