10 Million Pounds of Toxic Waste Headed to Oak Ridge for Disposal

By: Whitney Daniel
By: Whitney Daniel

Oak Ridge, Anderson County (WVLT) - For more than a decade, the incinerator at the former K-25 site in oak Ridge has been a source of controversy.

And a new announcement from the Department of Energy and the state could fuel that debate for at least the next few years.

In the next three years the Department of Energy will burn more than 10 million pounds of waste at the Oak Ridge incinerator.

It works like a trade off. Some doe sites send their waste here and in tern this site sends its waste to other sites.

Energy officials and watchdog groups say don't worry, several studies including one done in 1998 at request of the governor shows no signs of danger to you.

One of a kind, the TSCA incinerator is the only place in the country that treats hazardous and mixed wastes.

"This is the facility intent on destroying hazardous materials brought here with any remains or residuals going to a permanent facility in Utah," says Walter Perry from the Department of Energy.

Here in Oak Ridge the facility creates some concern. That's where oversight factors into the equation.

"No, we don't take DOE's word for it. We've done an independent study ourselves," Susan Gawarecki works with the local oversight committee, representing the City of Oak Ridge and 7 other counties.

"Our organization puts us at looked at risk for assessment in a lot of detail and don't think the emissions are harmful," says Gawarecki.

The State Oversight Committee agrees. Saying the incinerator has not exceeded any permit limits to date.

"We believe its a safe way and an effective way to treat this waste and in fact its the only incinerator in the country that treats the type of waste the incinerator treats," says Tisha Calabrese-Benton, from the state oversight committee.

That's why even watchdog groups say it makes sense to keep it running.

"I think its fair you send waste where it best treated and you try to be equitable in the DOE system," says Calabrese-Benton.

And the DOE says don't worry they're keeping your safety in mind everyday.

"We would not operate this facility on a day to day basis if we could not do it safely," says Perry.

Some say they would like to see the state complete the permit process. The doe keeps renewing it because if waste isn't treated it has to be stored at that is not the best option.


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