Tennessee's proposed nuclear landfill raises concerns over mercury disposal
- The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) is trying to stop construction of a new nuclear landfill at Oak Ridge. If the site is approved, the Department of Energy (DOE) will seek permission to dispose of hazardous waste there in a way that is not in accordance with some federal rules. The current landfill, which holds radioactive debris from former local uranium-processing facilities, is quickly nearing capacity.
- The proposed site, which would be called Environmental Management Disposal Facility, is adjacent to an existing landfill, 650 yards from the city boundary, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.
- DOE prepared three drafts of a "remedial investigation/feasibility study" and is working on another draft, based on feedback from the state and the Environmental Protection Agency.
As is usually the case, money and environmental concerns teeter on either side of the argument on whether to build a landfill — or, in this case, a hazardous waste disposal site.
DOE contends a new Oak Ridge facility would save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and be safer from a transportation perspective, compared to the alternative: shipping the wastes out of state.
TDEC is objecting partly for reasons tied to physical properties of the land as well as because of the proposed disposal plans. The site is "over steep slopes" and a shallow water table. And there would be significant quantities of mercury-contaminated soil waste dumped there, which has residents concerned, just as continues to be the case in Bridgeton, MO where citizens and politicians worry about possible leakage of nuclear waste from a landfill.
But David Adler of DOE states that the mercury-tainted waste at Oak Ridge would be treated with "macro-encapsulation" to lessen the risk of leakage. The state questions the appropriateness of waivers to allow mercury treatment after the contaminants have been deposited at the landfill.
- Times Free Press.com Tennessee raises concerns about proposed Oak Ridge nuclear landfill