First Shipment of Cold War-Era Radioactive Waste from Ohio Plant Leaves for Texas
CINCINNATI About 40,000 pounds of radioactive waste from a long-closed uranium-processing plant were loaded onto a flatbed truck Monday for a 1,300-mile journey to storage.
It was the first Texas-bound shipment of Cold War-era waste being cleaned up at the former Fernald plant just outside Cincinnati after neighbors fought for year to get rid of it and the government struggled to find a place to take it.
"I'm glad it's going," said Lisa Crawford, president of the Fernald Residents for Environmental Safety and Health. "But wherever it goes, it needs to stay there."
In April, Waste Control Specialists of Dallas won a $7.5 million contract to store the material after earlier plans to take it to Utah and Nevada fell through because of opposition.
The waste will be transported in 2,000 shipments to Andrews, Texas, near the New Mexico line, in large, sealed containers.
Shipments of the estimated 45,000 tons of waste should be completed within nine or 10 months. About 15 truckloads a day will leave Fernald at the peak of the shipping process, said Jeff Wagner, a spokesman for Fluor Fernald, the Energy Department contractor cleaning up the site.
"The material does not pose a great risk to humans, and there are things coming across the interstates every day that would be higher up on the security radar screen than a radioactive concrete block," Wagner said.
The Ohio plant processed and purified uranium metal for use in reactors that produced plutonium for nuclear weapons from the 1950s until 1989.
Eighty-five percent of the site's other wastes are to be permanently stored at Fernald. The more radioactive silo wastes being shipped to Texas are part of the 15 percent to be sent elsewhere under the cleanup plan.
Source: Associated Press