Oak Ridge wants more compensation for nuke landfill

5W8A5310 (3)-002The Department of Energy’s existing Oak Ridge landfill for radioactive and hazardous wastes generated by CERCLA cleanup projects is shown here. It is running out of space. DOE has stated its preference to build a new landfill adjacent to the existing facility on its east side (foreground). Other alternative sites are being studied, at the request environmental regulators. (UCOR photograph)

The City of Oak Ridge has previously expressed concerns about the Department of Energy’s proposal to build a new landfill for radioactive and hazardous wastes generated by cleanup operations in Oak Ridge, hiring a consultant to review the landfill plans and make recommendations. It now appears the city will push DOE to increase financial assistance to compensate for the landfill’s downsides — such as image issues that could impact future developments or make the city less competitive for new residents, etc.

The city has prepared comments on DOE’s proposed landfill — known as the Environmental Management Disposal Facility — and those comments will be on Oak Ridge City Council’s Monday agenda. Council will consider a resolution to send those comments to DOE, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agenda and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation — the three parties in the Federal Facilities Agreement.

The four-page document to be submitted by Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch raises a number of questions and includes some bold-faced recommendations.

The city’s message includes a request for more money:

“As part of the hosting of this site, financial compensation to the community for this EMDF site should be substantially adjusted and increased representing a new value per acre for the City and Anderson County.

“Most private waste disposal sites, for example, provide direct financial benefits to the host communities and such should be provided for the EMDF site. Near-term jobs associated with on-site disposal could be offset by opportunity costs stemming from prospective employers not wanting to invest near a low-level nuclear waste landfill. Conversely, there are several existing Oak Ridge companies which would benefit by assisting DOE and its contractors with implementation of alternative waste disposal options, including off-site disposal at other federally owned or commercial sites where the climate is comparatively dry.”

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