Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigating cleanup of BWX Technologies nuclear-waste dump in Parks
By Mary Ann Thomas
Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012, 1:01 a.m.
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
WASHINGTON — The inspector general of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) confirmed that it has begun an independent investigation of the cleanup of the BWX Technologies nuclear-waste dump in Parks.
The toxic waste dump along Route 66, known formally as the Shallow Land Disposal Area, received radioactive and chemical waste from the former Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corp. (NUMEC) in Apollo and Parks, which was later owned and operated by BWX and its predecessor Atlantic Richfield Co. BWX was formerly known as Babcock & Wilcox, a name to which it has returned.
All produced nuclear fuel for submarines and a range of nuclear products for the federal government and private industry.
Sen. Bob Casey Jr. requested the investigation in late June to address concerns of residents and unanswered questions about the cleanup.
The Inspector General's Office declined to provide details on the investigation. “We've opened an investigation and the matter is under review,” said Rossana Raspa, a senior level investigative operations officer with office in Rockville, Md.
David McIntyre, NRC spokesman declined comment, saying that the agency doesn't comment on inspector general issues.
John Rizzo, Casey's press secretary, said the results of the investigation will be released to the public.
Casey's inquiry followed on the heels of the Army Corps rethinking how — and if — it would continue the estimated 10-year cleanup after digging was halted in the late summer of 2011.
A contractor allegedly mishandled some nuclear waste and greater than expected amounts of “complex” nuclear materials were found.
Army Corps headquarters in Washington recently decided to continue the project, but with a price tag that could skyrocket from the present estimate of $170 million to $500 million.
As the agency continues to work with the NRC, the federal Department of Energy and a host of other government agencies, Casey wants to make sure that all of the agencies are cooperating.
In his letter to Hubert T. Bell, NRC inspector general, Casey said, “I want to ensure that the NRC is cooperating fully, properly and in a timely manner with (the Army Corps of Engineers), particularly because NRC previously oversaw decommissioning of the site.”
The corps took over the cleanup in 2002 after U.S. Rep. John Murtha entered legislation to dig up and remove the nuclear waste from the Parks dump. Previously, the NRC and the company spent years on plans to keep the nuclear waste on site, which would have been radioactive for thousands of years, requiring institutional controls.
Patty Ameno, Leechburg nuclear activist, said that she wants to know more about the case and that any new information “needs to be disclosed to the public.”
“I also feel that the IG should have a time constraint on the release of their findings,” Ameno added. “These investigations are necessary because it is quite evident that there are serious concerns with this site and, which triggered federal protection.”
After decades of being protected only by a chain link fence and signs that essentially say “Keep out,” armed Homeland Security officers now patrol the property.
Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or firstname.lastname@example.org.There are currently no comments for this story.
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