MARCH 2008

Clean up monitored closely at Armstrong County site

United States Environmental Protection deputy secretary, Tom Fidler, outlined how the department will work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clean up radiological waste disposed at a shallow land disposal area in Park Township, Pennsylvania.

Fidler said now that funding has been appropriated, a tremendous opportunity exists to benefit the community.

Fidler said DEP will play an instrumental role in working with the Corps to develop the appropriate permits for onsite wastewater treatment and discharge.

As established in an agreement between the state and the Corps, DEP’s Bureau of Radiation Protection will work closely with the Army’s engineers to ensure the proper and thorough removal and transport of any radiologically contaminated soils and any radiological waste mixed with chemical waste to an authorized disposal site.

DEP and EPA will review any proposed clean up plans and actions, and will jointly track progress, monitor sampling, and review on-site, non-radiological contamination data.

The Park Township shallow land disposal area, or SLDA, consists of 10 trenches within a 1.2-acre area that were used to dispose of low-level radioactive waste. The waste is believed to consist primarily of items such as contaminated protective clothing like booties and gloves, containers, and obsolete equipment once used at the adjacent BWX Technology’s former Parks Nuclear Fuel Fabrication Facility.

Because hazardous materials may have mixed with low-level radioactive waste, DEP has notified Army Corps that all wastes must be characterized. Mixed wastes and hazardous wastes not contaminated with radiation must also be removed from the trenches, characterized, transported and properly disposed.

DEP also has notified the Corps that no radiologically contaminated soil from the SLDA may be disposed of in a Pennsylvania solid waste facility.

Once the Corps of Engineers completes clean up work, the site will be sampled and characterized to determine if additional remediation work is required.

“If sampling shows that residual non-radiological contamination exists above acceptable levels after the radioactive materials have been removed, BWX Technology will be expected to complete the cleanup,” said Fidler.

Work at the Park Township SLDA follows the successful removal of uranium-laden ash from the nearby Kiski Valley Water Pollution Control Authority’s treatment plant. The ash was found in the treatment plant’s lagoon, which had received wastewater flow from the former Babcock & Wilcox facility.

The ash was removed and transported to a licensed out-of-state facility for proper disposal under an agreement DEP had brokered with the authority and BWX Technology of Lynchburg, Virginia. The Kiski Valley authority and BWX bore the nearly $2.6 million cost for out-of-state transportation and waste disposal, as well as expenses associated with closing the lagoon site in 2007.