Category Archives: EPA

Near-term happenings

Members of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, which includes more than 30 activists groups at DOE sites around the country, will be in Washington this week for the annual “DC Days.” The activists plan to meet with congressional staff members and decisionmakers in Washington to discuss issues of interest — especially funding for nuclear weapons and related projects and priorities for environmental cleanup at Cold War nuclear sites. IMG_5674As part of the event, the ANA will present awards to Sen. Dianne Feinstein “for extraordinary leadership to constrain destabilizing new warheads, support global nonproliferation and provide for cleaning up U.S. nuclear weapons sites”; Rep. Adam Smith “for supporting a rigorous, safe cleanup at the Hanford nuclear site by fighting to ensure that workers are protected from exposure to toxic vapors”;  Chuck Montaño “for tireless efforts as an activist, author and personal exemplar of courage to hold the nuclear weapons complex accountable for waste, fraud, and whistle-blower retaliation”; and  Kay Cumbow, who will receive the Judith Johnsrud Unsung Hero Award in collaboration with Beyond Nuclear  “for demonstrating tireless dedication and stubborn determination, despite daunting odds, in her creative, visionary work for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes. ” Continue reading

State playing hard ball on DOE’s proposed plans for nuke landfill in Oak Ridge

k25building_MPIn correspondence and meetings with the U.S. Department of Energy over the past year, the state has raised numerous issues and concerns regarding DOE’s plans for a new nuclear landfill in Oak Ridge.

The landfill proposal has become increasingly controversial, underscored by critical comments — including concerns that the addition of more radioactive waste will taint the town’s image as a dumping ground — approved earlier this week by Oak Ridge City Council and echoed by the Anderson County Commission.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is pushing DOE to consider other Oak Ridge sites beyond the agency’s preferred one, which is adjacent to an existing landfill on the government reservation and only 650 yards from the city boundary.

“We are continuing to work with the DOE and EPA on this issue and taking the matter very seriously,” Kelly Brockman, communications chief for TDEC, said in an email response to questions. Continue reading

How long will it take to clean up Oak Ridge?

IMG_4340DOE’s David Adler, shown here at the K-31 demolition site, said Oak Ridge is receiving strong support for its cleanup priorities.

The Department of Energy environmental cleanup program has been an evolving effort since the early 1980s, when the legacy of pollution from the World War II and Cold War nuclear weapons work came to the public’s attention in a big way.

Since then, billions of dollars have been spent on clean up projects in Oak Ridge, and there have been efforts by DOE — prodded by the enforcement powers of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation — to comply with the nation’s environmental laws and schedule the necessary (and extremely expensive) projects.

When will it all be completed? Continue reading

What to do with White Oak Lake?

IMG_4360Warning signs at the fenceline restricting access to White Oak Dam, which separates White Oak Lake, pictured below right, from the Clinch River.

IMG_4361More than 30 years ago, when the magnitude of pollution problems on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge reservation was just becoming apparent, White Oak Lake was dubbed the nation’s, if not the world’s, most radioactively polluted body of water.

The 25-acre lake was created during the World War II Manhattan Project to collect radioactive discharges from Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s nuclear operations. The construction of White Oak Dam backed up White Oak Creek and prevented the nuclear wastes from flowing directly into the Clinch River and downstream reservoirs.

Much of the worst stuff settled into the lake’s sediments.

That, of course, reduced the potential exposures to downstream dwellers, but it created an environmental problem all its own. Continue reading

DOE says meeting with environmental regulators ‘productive’ on mercury dispute

mercurysignRepresentatives from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management met April 21 with counterparts from the Environmental Protection Agency (Region IV) and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. The meeting was an attempt to resolve a formal dispute over plans for a new mercury-treatment facility at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant.

According to Mike Koentop, the executive officer of DOE’s environmental team, the meeting was “productive.” Continue reading