US to burn 100s of tons of radioactive waste from Germany in Tennessee

Published: March 18th, 2012 at 5:21 pm ET
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Title: Comment sought on nuclear waste
Source: AP
Date: Feb 12, 2008

[...] Mike Johnson, president of the [EnergySolutions]‘s Commercial Facilities Group [...] said the Oak Ridge [Tennessee] facility has probably recycled about 1.5 million tons of radioactive metals since 1996 from foreign sources including Germany, Belgium and Canada.

Rep. Bart Gordon, chairman of the U.S. House Science and Technology Committee [...] has called it a “terrible idea,” saying the United States has enough problems disposing its own nuclear waste. [...]

“It sets a very bad precedent which could result in a flood of nuclear waste being dumped in the U.S.,” said Tom Clements, a spokesman for Friends of the Earth in Columbia, S.C. [...]

Read the report here


Title: German waste to Oak Ridge?
Source: AP
Date: Dec 8, 2010

[...] NRC spokesman David McIntyre said [EnergySolutions] has incinerated foreign waste, including shipments from Canada, Mexico and Brazil. [...]

“There’ll be waste from universities, hospitals — medical facilities — that will be shipped over, if we receive a permit from the NRC to burn it in the incinerator and then return the ash to Germany,” [EnergySolutions spokesman Mark Walker] said.

The company processes relatively low-level nuclear waste, such as workers’ protective clothing, walls, desks and other equipment from old nuclear plants, as opposed to highly contaminated used fuel rods from nuclear reactors. [...]

Democratic U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon of Murfreesboro [...] said the NRC “lacks the authority to enforce real oversight over this sensitive process.” [...]

Tennessee’s two Republican U.S. senators, Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, said they do not object to the company incinerating foreign waste and returning it to the originating country.

Read the report here


Title: Radioactive waste may be bound for state
Source: Times Free Press
Author: Carey O’Neil
Date: March 18, 2011

[...] “I believe them when they say it [filtration] captures whatever 90 percent they say it captures [...] ” said Don Safer, chairman of the Tennessee Environmental Council. [...]

According to the NRC regulatory guide, breathing is the most common way radioactive material is ingested. When radioactive materials do get ingested, they most often pass through several organs and are excreted within a few days.

Irradiated material passing through a person’s body can permanently change cells, sometimes causing cancer in the host or genetic birth defects in an exposed person’s child. [...]

“It’s rare anymore to burn radioactive waste materials. How rare is indicated by the Germans wanting to ship the stuff over here to burn it,” [Safer] said. “It’s pretty telling that …. it even makes economic sense to do it.” [...]

EnergySolutions officials said they already are treating foreign waste from countries such as Mexico, Canada, the U.K. and Japan, making Germany’s materials a logical expansion of what’s already being done. [...]

Laurence Miller, a professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

  • He said the facility is entirely safe and called the idea that the German waste would raise additional health concerns “total nonsense.”
  • “From the standpoint of a health issue, it’s no different from what they’ve been doing”
  • “If you are worried now, then why were you not worried for the last 10 years?”

Read the report here


Title: Tennessee Accepts Huge Shipment of German Radioactive Waste
Source: AP
Date: Jun 20, 2011

Federal authorities have approved licenses allowing up to 1,000 tons of low-level radioactive waste from Germany to be brought to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for incineration. [...]

Don Safer, chairman of the Tennessee Environmental Council, told The Chattanooga Times Free Press that the Czech government turned away the waste [...]

“There’s more (radioactive) tritium in the atmosphere from cosmic rays from the sun than what we’d ever emit from there,” EnergySolutions spokesman Mark Walker said last March. [...]

Tennessee is the only state that allows commercial burning of radioactive waste, licensing six incinerators. The state already receives 75 percent of the nation’s low-level radioactive waste — about 41 million pounds per year, according to state records.

With German waste now permitted to enter the U.S. and come to Oak Ridge, Safer expects Tennessee to become “the destination for processing radioactive waste from all over the world.”

Read the report here


Title: Tennessee Awaits Tons Of German Nuclear Waste
Source: NPR
Author: Matt Shafer Powell
Date: July 26, 2011

Oak Ridge was created from scratch in 1942 to help build the atomic bomb. The city is home to a 59,000-acre military area and two giant plants where the bomb was produced.

A post-war newsreel calls Oak Ridge “a city where 75,000 people worked in absolute secrecy on history’s most sensational secret.” [...]

Some of that waste ends up at EnergySolutions’ Bear Creek incinerator plant in Oak Ridge [...] trucks rumble in and out of the plant, leaving behind giant dumpster-sized boxes full of low-level nuclear waste.

“This is definitely typical,” EnergySolutions’ Greg Lawson says. “It’s in and out all day long. I don’t know the average number of shipments in and out, but there’s a lot going on every day.”

Read the report here

h/t Anonymous tip

Published: March 18th, 2012 at 5:21 pm ET
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151 comments

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