A controversial proposed landfill at the Oak Ridge Reservation Superfund Site was rejected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on March 21 due to insufficient water pollution discharge standards. The proposed landfill would contain low-level radioactive and mixed waste from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12 National Security Complex.
The site is operated and owned by the U.S. Department of Energy and was used during the Cold War to research, produce and store materials to study weapons and uranium. Today, it is a laboratory and security complex for the federal government.
Local citizens have spoken against the plans for the landfill and shared concerns about mercury, maintenance of the facility and public perception of Oak Ridge. Many also expressed concerns with the Department of Energy’s standards for the facility.
The EPA’s report found that the site’s nearly full existing landfill is discharging hazardous substances into the Bear Creek tributary and the proposed 2.2 million cubic-yard landfill would do the same. According to the EPA, contaminants from the landfill have affected 82 miles of the Clinch River in Tennessee and the Clinch River arm of the Watts Bar Reservoir, and are mostly located in lake- and river-bottom sediments.
The DOE has delayed a finalized plan for the proposed landfill until August 2, according to the Exchange Monitor. After August 2, regulators will have 60 days to comment on the draft. — By Eric Halvarson