IMPACT Services Inc., a company that processes low-level radioactive waste in west Oak Ridge, has filed for bankruptcy, Tennessee officials said Friday morning.
The company has about one million pounds of waste at East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site. State officials said workers are at the site to ensure the materials are safe.
“It should be reiterated that the material at the facility is secure and a radiation safety officer remains onsite,” said Meg Lockhart, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
IMPACT Services has told state officials that approximately 60-70 percent of the waste can be returned to the companies that generated it, leaving about 400,000 pounds that might need to be addressed.
Staff members from TDEC’s Division of Radiological Health have been at the IMPACT Services plant this week, and the department is closely monitoring the situation.
Lockhart said IMPACT also had staff there, including a radiation safety officer.
IMPACT has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in United State Bankruptcy Court in Delaware on Thursday, according to a copy of a petition received by the state.
An exhibit attached to the bankruptcy petition said the current storage and processing of the low-level radioactive waste does not pose an imminent and identifiable threat to public health or safety.
“However, out of an abundance of caution and in the interest of full and complete disclosure, given the nature of the debtor’s business operations and the possession of low-level radioactive waste, if not properly stored and/or processed, the low-level radioactive waste may pose a threat of imminent and identifiable harm to public health and safety,” the exhibit said.
There is a $1.2 million bond on the operation.
“Financial assurance is directly proportional to the amount of radioactive waste they receive and store on site,” Lockhart said. “The purpose of financial assurance is to cover the liabilities incurred when a facility abandons their responsibility to maintain the site in a safe condition.”
She said TDEC is reviewing IMPACT’s bankruptcy filing, and the legal paperwork has been shared with the Attorney General’s office.
Lockhart said it is “simply too early” to speculate on future plans about the facility.
She said a question had been raised about whether the Radioactive Material License would be transferable to a new owner if the Oak Ridge facilities are purchased via bankruptcy.
“It is my understanding that until it is terminated, the existing license could be transferred to an otherwise qualified applicant,” Lockhart said.
IMPACT Services reportedly closed their ETTP operations Friday, May 18. TDEC officials learned of the closure from other licensees.
Company representatives have not been available for comment this week.
See previous story on IMPACT Services here.