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DEP to discuss plan to move ash

| Monday, Aug. 1, 2005

Based on recommendations from the Nuclear Regulator Commission, state officials believe their plan to move uranium-contaminated ash from a waste-water treatment lagoon to a landfill is safe.

Officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection will discuss that plan with residents at a Tuesday public hearing in Allegheny Township.

The DEP plans to remove about 12,000 cubic yards of ash from the waste-water lagoon at the Kiski Valley Water Pollution Control Authority's sewage treatment plant.

The ash contains low levels of uranium, carried there between 1977-84 by waste water from the former Babcock and Wilcox facility in Apollo. B&W, along with Atlantic Richfield and Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corp. before it, produced nuclear fuel for military and private industry at sites in Apollo and Parks.

At least 400 area residents and former workers are alleged to have died or have illnesses caused by the nuclear-fuel processing at the sites, according to lawsuits and claims filed with the federal government.

Since B&W ceased operation in 1984, a succession of cleanup projects have aimed to rid the former sites of contamination, including the contaminated ash in the waste water lagoon

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission studied the ash and issued a report in January that said it meets the agency's criteria for what the agency calls "unrestricted use," meaning the ash can be treated like any other noncontaminated waste.

Robert Kossack, director of the Kiski Valley Water Pollution Control Authority, said he trusts the NRC's conclusions.

"They're a lot smarter than I am about the nuclear issues," he said.

An independent consultant for the authority reviewed the NRC study and agreed the DEP's plan to move the ash to a landfill is safe, Kossack said.

Over the course of a month, DEP said it plans to truck the waste to one of two landfills. The ash will either go to the Valley Landfill in Penn Township, Westmoreland County, or to the Monroeville Landfill.

Tuesday's public hearing will be at 7 p.m. at Markle Volunteer Fire Hall, 470 Beverly Drive, Allegheny Township.

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