The waste company EnergySolutions proposed to bring more than 1,000,000 pounds of radioactive waste from Germany to Oak Ridge to be burned in an incinerator. OREPA has been part of a coalition working to prevent the importing of foreign radioactive waste. Today comes news that EnergySolutions has been cited by the state of Utah for numerous violations of its waste acceptance limits—EnergySolutions accepted illegal waste from five different companies over the course of three weeks last year.
In response to this information, OREPA sent a call to the State of Tennessee asking it to step in to assert regulatory authority and stop the importation of foreign waste. We also issued this press release on Monday, February 28.
TIME FOR TENNESSEE TO BE HANDS ON
OREPA CALLS FOR STATE TO PROTECT CITIZENS
AND TAKE CONTROL OF IRRESPONSIBLE CORPORATION
The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance issued a call for the state of Tennessee to take a “hands on” approach to the proposal of EnergySolutions/Duratek to import more than a million pounds of radioactive waste to be burned in incinerators in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
“Until now, the state has taken a hands off approach to a license amendment and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission process. It is time for them to step in to do their job to protect the people of Roane, Anderson, Knox and Loudon counties,” said OREPA coordinator Ralph Hutchison.
OREPA’s call comes on the heels of the revelation that the company responsible for the waste import, EnergySolutions, has received a Notice of Violation and fine from the state of Utah for importing waste from Oak Ridge, Tennessee to their disposal facility in Utah that exceeded permit requirements.
“The bottom line is this company can not be trusted to do the simplest and most basic part of waste processing—knowing what you are dealing with,” said Hutchison. “The state’s attitude is ‘As long as it looks right on paper, we can’t do anything about it.’ That attitude fails to protect Tennesseans from companies who clean the paper up, but are doing dirty things with the actual waste.”
The Notice of Violations issued by the state of Utah impose penalties on EnergySolutions for five separate incidents with five separate companies, indicating the problems are not isolated but suggestive of a company-wide problem. Two of the companies cited are in Oak Ridge—Bechtel Jacobs and the Materials and Energy Corporation.
Energy Solutions is cited for accepting and disposing of sixteen barrels in eight discrete shipments of waste that exceeded Class A limits from Bechtel Jacobs over a three week period (February 26 – March 18, 2010). The violations are Severity Level III. EnergySolutions was also cited for accepting waste from Materials and Energy Corporation which exceeded limits for Special Nuclear Materials (weapons-grade Highly Enriched Uranium) by 28%.
This same company, EnergySolutions, now proposes to import more than a million pounds of radioactive waste from unnamed sources in Germany, raising obvious concerns. “We are not asking if they can be trusted,” said Hutchison. “It is obvious they can not. Whether these violations are malfeasance, sloppiness, or general incompetence is not the issue. The issue is if they make a mistake with the waste they bring to Tennessee and burn, what comes out of the stack could kill people. A company with five notices of violation, from five separate companies over a three week period, can not be trusted. So we are asking the state of Tennessee to step in and assert its authority to protect us, and, if they are unable or unwilling to do that, we believe the state should defer to the Environmental Protection Agency. Those of us who live downwind from the incinerators in Oak Ridge have a right to expect the air we breathe to be free of radioactive materials. We can not be confident of that if an irresponsible waste company like EnergySolutions has free license to conduct business as usual—since their usual business is obviously to break the law. These violations just represent five times they got caught.”