Synthesis/Regeneration 12   (Winter 1997)

Waste Not, Dump Not!

by Kristi Hanson, Coalition for Health Concern

In August 1995, the Department of Energy (DOE), issued a draft Environmental Impact Statement ( EIS) for public comment on what to do with our nation's hazardous and radioactive waste. The EIS gives a choice of three alternatives to deal with this waste problem: (1) make one or two giant waste facilities for all the waste; (2) make several regional facilities to accept waste from the region; or, (3) have the facilities like Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP ) take care of their own waste.

The EIS identifies the PGDP as a potential "major site." The introduction to the EIS states that "'Major' sites are those candidate locations that may receive wastes generated offsite, manage HLW, (high level waste), and/or host disposal facilities." The potential waste as explained in the EIS consists of low level waste (LLW), which "includes all radioactive waste that is not high level waste,... most LLW consists of relatively large amounts of waste materials with small amounts of radionuclides, such as contaminated equipment,... and solidified sludge...," Low Level Mixed Waste, which "contains both hazardous and low-level radioactive components. LLMW results from a variety of activities, including the processing of nuclear materials used in nuclear weapons production, and energy research and development activities...," and Transuranic Waste, which "is generated during nuclear reactor fuel assembly, nuclear weapons production, and spent nuclear fuel reprocessing..."

Even though there are already large amounts of some of these wastes at the PGDP, I am opposed to the plant becoming a major site for more of this waste for the following reasons: PGDP already has huge waste problems and has already contaminated the groundwater for miles around the plant; the plant is near the Ohio river and in a severe earthquake zone; the waste would have to be transported by our highways and railways; and the technology for dealing with this waste is in its infancy.

DOE will soon make a final decision on where to put this waste for disposal. We need to take the time to comment on this very serious proposal for our community. Please write U.S. DOE, Waste Management PEIS Comments, PO Box 3790, Gaithersburg, MD 20885-3790, and get on the mailing list to receive the decision.

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