The U.S. Department of Energy confirmed that contractors have made two more 5,000-gallon shipments of radioactive sludge from the city of Oak Ridge’s treatment plant to a treatment facility in Washington state.
It’s part of the cleanup effort that’s been taking place at the city’s Rarity Ridge Wastewater Treatment plant since early this year, when it was discovered that radioactive runoff from the K-25 demolition site had infiltrated a sewer line and ultimately reached the sewage-treatment plant on the other side of the Clinch River.
Mike Koentop, executive officer of the DOE’s Environmental Management Office in Oak Ridge, said there now have been eight shipments from Oak Ridge to the PermaFix Environmental treatment plant in Richland, Wash. The seventh shipment left Oak Ridge on Oct. 7 and the eighth shipment was made on Dec. 4, he said.
DOE earlier had projected that as many as 20 of the 5,000-gallon shipments might be necessary before the treatment plant contamination was brought down to acceptable levels. Koentop said that number still appears to be a realistic estimate.
“The city of Oak Ridge and UCOR (the agency’s Oak Ridge cleanup manager) continue to monitor the (levels of radioactive technetium-99),” Koentop said. The frequency of shipments depends on the level of rainfall, which affects the suspended solids in the sewage treatment process, he said.
PermFix’s contract for treating the radioactive sludge was earlier estimated to be about $1.2 million. The transportation of waste shipments is being handled by a company called CAST.
Koentop said the is no readily available estimate on the total cost of the project.
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