Mercury concerns prompt DOE landfill workshop

DOE’s Dave Adler talks about landfills with County Commission. (photo:Ken Leinart )
Anderson County Commission Monday night elected to hold a workshop to get citizens’ input and to discuss a proposed waste storing facility on the Department of Energy reservation in Oak Ridge.

“And we do want citizens’ input,” Theresa Scott said.

Commission will hold the workshop at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 7, in the Commission meeting room.

The action came about after Dale Adler, the Acting Deputy Manager of the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management, presented an overview of what the DOE is looking to do as it dismantles buildings in the Y-12 Security Complex.

Adler outlined DOE’s plans for handling waste from its old sits, telling County Commission that highly contaminated waste would be shipped west — waste with radioactive materials.

Adler said that some of the debris from the demolition could have traces.

Adler said DOE’s current site is being prepared development — he showed a slide and presented a package that outlined the numerous layers of protection needed for a low hazard landfill.

If DOE does not open another landfill in the Y-12 complex, then all material will have to be shipped west, which would, of course, increase the cost of the cleanup.

Adler said there were three basic levels of contamination from fairly low levels of contamination in the soil — waste oil, solvents, etc., and further up the contamination chain.

He told commission highly contaminated waste will be shipped away.

Questions arose not so much about radioactive material, but about mercury.

Commissioner Jerry Creasey asked what DOE was planning on doing about mercury contamination in some of the sites within the complex.

Adler said the mercury would be “squeezed” by various means, but that there still could be minute traces left.

And it was the mercury question that three citizens who spoke to the body addressed. Robert Kennedy, Rebecca Bowman, and Martin McBride — all Oak Ridge residents — voiced concerns about mercury contamination.

Todd Waterman of Clinton also asked about mercury contamination.

Amy Fitzgerald said she understood DOE to say its first landfill would take care of all its needs. Now DOE is asking for another.

The public comment period for the Department of Defense closes Jan. 9, but Adler said DOE would be open to comments and/or recommendations from government bodies well after that period is closed.

Creasy made the motion to have either a public hearing, workshop, or special called meeting so that commission could get a better grasp of what the DOE is planning and what citizens’ concerns are.