“Outstanding service. They were extremely careful delivering the extra large container into our driveway.” -- A. L. GARNER
Lead, arsenic and mercury are the most common contaminants found at Superfund sites.At the Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee, the Energy Department produced enriched uranium for nuclear bombs during World War II and the Cold War. Mercury contamination has prevented residents from fishing and swimming along a nearby creek, and residents near the Superfund site remain concerned about the safety of their drinking water.“If I’m thirsty enough, I’ll drink,” said Dynasti Kirk, an Oak Ridge resident. “But I don’t trust it.” The EPA has linked hazardous substances to a variety of human health problems, including birth defects, cancer, nervous system damage and infertility. Using census data, a 2015 EPA report found 53 million people live within three miles of a Superfund remedial site.[How will Scott Pruitt clean up Superfund sites? Communities are dubious.]Congressional funding has gradually decreased, making it more difficult to oversee and enforce the program. From 1999 through 2013, appropriations to the EPA’s Superfund program were cut from about $2 billion to about $1.1 billion, according to a 2015 Government Accountability Office report.At most Superfund sites, the EPA is able to identify potentially responsible parties. Even so, those companies are under no legal obligation to maintain or disclose their cleanup costs, according to the GAO. Companies generally keep cost information confidential.[Houston’s flooding fills Superfund sites, which may spill toxins]Less money has meant slower cleanups. It takes years for a typical Superfund site to be removed from the National Priorities List (NPL). More than half of the original 406 sites added onto the NPL in 1983 remain on the list today.Whitman, who served under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003, pushed for a reauthorization of the Superfund taxes so the agency could pay for more enforcement and cleanup. “We kept pointing out this money is running out; we need to do this,” Whitman said.The Bush administration determined it was not a political battle worth fighting, she added. “It was something for which Congress had no appetite,” she said. “They just were not willing to consider anything that had the word ‘tax’ in it.”Democrats failed to renew the taxes when they controlled the House and Senate at the start of Obama’s first term.Mathy Stanislaus, who oversaw the Superfund program from 2009 through 2017 under President Barack Obama, said cleanups were “competing with the multitude of other activities and obligations of the federal government.”“There was a reason why the Superfund tax was put in place,” he said.
For the first time since 2012, transuranic waste processed and treated in Oak Ridge is leaving the Transuranic Waste Processing Center for permanent disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, New Mexico. Employees celebrate in the photo above. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management)For the first time since 2012, transuranic waste processed and treated in Oak Ridge is leaving the Transuranic Waste Processing Center for permanent disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, New Mexico.The first shipment left Oak Ridge on August 9.Transuranic waste consists of materials and debris that are contaminated with elements that have a higher atomic mass and listed after uranium on the periodic table. The majority of Oak Ridge’s inventory originated from previous research and isotope production missions at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.“Resuming shipments has been an important priority for our program due to the large inventory of processed waste that is stored in onsite facilities,” sa... (Oak ... - Oak Ridge Today)
Oak Ridge.Yucca Mountain was chosen by the federal government as a nuclear waste storage site 30 years ago. Nevada officials say $8 billion was spent on planning and initial construction before opposition mothballed the project. As you might imagine, Nevada residents don’t want the facility completed. Here’s Nevada Senator Dean Heller.“The people of Nevada deserve to be safe in their own backyards. And no amount of reassurance from the federal government will convince us that Nevada should be the nation’s nuclear waste dump.”The House Energy Committee sent the bill to the full House for consideration in late June. The bill has not yet been schedule for a vote. (WMOT)