NFS seeks comments on storage of waste

Brad Hicks • Mar 8, 2012 at 9:05 AM

ERWIN — Nuclear Fuel Services is seeking renewal of its hazardous waste management permit from the state and held a pre-application community meeting Wednesday evening to garner public comments.

The permit, which was issued by the state’s Division of Solid Waste Management on Sept. 30, 2002, allows the storage of specified mixed waste. The permit, which has been modified several times over the years, is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2012.

This permit authorizes the storage of 12 types of mixed low-level radioactive waste in a 140-cubic yard container storage unit at the NFS facility. Mixed waste is waste regulated as radiological and hazardous. Under the renewal, NFS is seeking the continued allowance to store three types of mixed waste.

“The renewal application discussed this evening requests authorization to continue storage activities for only three mixed waste types — lead, mercury and pyridine — in the same 140-cubic yard storage container unit,” said Cathy Roache, the meeting’s facilitator. “Nine of the 12 types of waste currently permitted have been sent for treatment and disposal at off-site licensed facilities.”

NFS is not seeking an increase in the storage area’s capacity, and all waste stored is generated at NFS, Roache said.

“This renewal application provides for proper mixed waste storage in accordance with all applicable regulations until off-site treatment and disposal are available,” Roache said.

A community impact statement issued Wednesday by NFS states that the container storage unit is used for storing both solid and liquid mixed hazardous waste in sealed and labeled containers.

“The containers holding mixed hazardous wastes are always closed during storage, except when it is necessary to add or remove waste,” the release states. “The containers will not be opened, handled or stored in any manner which may rupture the container or cause it to leak. The container storage unit is designed, operated, and maintained to minimize the possibility of a fire, explosion, or any unplanned release of hazardous waste or hazardous constituents to the environment.”

The containers are also stored on spill skids that provide secondary containment in the event of a leak and are inspected regularly, the release states. The release also states the building in which the storage units are kept has safety precautions, such as an automatic sprinkler system, in place and falls within the facility’s “protected area,” and is safeguarded with on-site security. The building also is not located within the 100-year flood plain of the Nolichucky River or the elevations of Martin Creek, according to NFS.

“In summary, the NFS hazardous waste management permit renewal application requests authorization to continue storage activities for lead, mercury and pyridine mixed low-level radioactive waste types in the same 140-cubic yard container storage unit,” Roache said. “NFS has removed nine waste types from the permit and has not increased the capacity of the storage unit.

“All mixed waste stored was generated on-site by NFS and until off-site treatment and disposal become available, will be properly stored in accordance with all applicable regulations. This renewal application is necessary for the continued operation and maintenance of the existing permitted mixed waste container storage unit.”

Those wishing to make public comments of the permit renewal request have until 4 p.m. Friday. Written comments can be sent to NFS Communications Manager Lauri Turpin via mail at 1205 Banner Hill Road, Erwin, TN 37650 or via email at laturpin@nuclearfuelservices.com.

Following the meeting, Turpin said after the comment period ends, NFS will have 30 days to review the comments and provide answers with regard to the permit renewal request. Those will be sent to the state and, following its own review period, will conduct a meeting regarding the request.

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