It’s considered a success story—a one-year, $1.2 million state project to ship out more than one million pounds of low-level radioactive waste from a company that has declared bankruptcy—and it’s scheduled to end Friday, officials said last week. The last waste, stored in an open-air shed at the site, was scheduled to be shipped out today, but it has been delayed a day or two.
The project began in May 2012 after IMPACT Services Inc., a company that processed low-level radioactive waste, declared bankruptcy. The company had operations on property leased from the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee at the northwest corner of Heritage Center, the former K-25 site in west Oak Ridge.
In the past year, state and contractor officials said during a tour last week, a total of roughly 1.6 million pounds of waste and equipment has been shipped out, including to other processors and sites in Oak Ridge, Florida, and a landfill in Clive, Utah. The waste has been shipped from the site in 1,200 containers on some 220 truck shipments.
Roger Fenner, a health physicist consultant in the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Division of Radiological Health who has overseen the work for the state, said most of the waste has been picked up by the 138 companies or agencies that generated it or by someone else hired to do it for them. Some of the waste has been non-radioactive and roughly 500,000 pounds of materials were shipped out by TDEC, including items like forklifts, compressors, and concrete blocks.
“It’s just about down to nothing,” Fenner said.
One year ago, he said, the IMPACT Services warehouse, which was built in about 2005, was full of waste, as were storage containers outside and a nearby storage shed. The waste came from nuclear power plants, national laboratories, medical labs, high schools, and municipal operations. It included personal protective equipment such as clothing and some animals used for scientific research.
The U.S. Department of Energy had about 100 containers that it took back. Some oil waste went back to the K-33 Building at Heritage Center.
Fenner said the state has used almost all of a $1.2 million bond to pay for the work. No state money was involved.
There were two SAIC employees at the site, and one radiation safety officer from Environmental Dimensions Inc. of Albuquerque, N.M.
IMPACT Services had two ovens that baked waste such as gloves and Pyrex glass at 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit before it was poured into one-cubic-yard bags and shipped out in blue containers known as B-25 boxes.
IMPACT Services also had an area where personal protective equipment, mostly from power plants, could be dissolved.
The radiation safety officer, subcontractor Mike Marable of EDi, had thought one year ago that the project would turn out to be more expensive than it turned out to be.
“It was a daunting task, but it was achievable,” Marable said.