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South Carolina nuclear fuel plant treatment pool leaking, polluting groundwater?

Radioactive muck found in pond; liner may be leaking at SC nuclear fuel plant, The State BY SAMMY FRETWELL, MAY 13, 2020  Nearly 40 years ago, the operators of a nuclear fuel plant near Columbia installed a liner in a treatment lagoon, hoping to trap radioactive and chemical waste before it could trickle into groundwater beneath the pond.

Now, the lagoon liner is wearing out. And that’s a concern.

Recent research suggests radioactive pollution has seeped through the synthetic barrier that was supposed to protect soil and groundwater in the Congaree River flood plain. Soil below the liner is suspected of being polluted with waste from the east lagoon, according to a new report for the plant’s operator, Westinghouse Nuclear.

’“It is expected that some contamination will exist in the soil underlying the east lagoon liner, given the long operating history of the lagoon and the potential for a liner system leak,’’ the May 8 report for Westinghouse says.

If the soil below the lagoon is polluted, as Westinghouse suspects, it could indicate that groundwater flowing away from the property and toward the Congaree River has been contaminated.

No one knows the extent of the contamination yet, but Westinghouse has a plan to dig radioactive sludge from the lagoon and haul it across the country for disposal in the Idaho desert.

Once the company has removed the mucky sludge and the lagoon’s 1980s era liner, it plans to test the soil below the waste pond to see how much contamination may be in the earth.

The new Westinghouse consulting report, released by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, says sludge in the east lagoon at Westinghouse is contaminated with low enriched uranium and technetium-99, nuclear materials generated as part of production of fuel rods at the 51-year-old factory.

Exposure to sufficient amounts of uranium can cause kidney damage in adults and children. Technetium 99, which concentrates in the thyroid and gastrointestinal tract, can increase a person’s chances of cancer if exposed to certain amounts………

For now, Westinghouse is moving forward with cleanup efforts. Although the company doesn’t plan to clean up some pollution until it closes the plant in future decades, Westinghouse has agreed to get rid of other contamination sooner. …….

The tainted material that would be shipped to Idaho, likely next year, includes 45,000 cubic feet of sludge, soil and debris from the east lagoon, a 160-foot long pond behind the plant on Bluff Road.

Radioactive pond sludge would be hauled away on railroad cars to a U.S. Ecology site in the Owyhee Desert near Grand View, Idaho, according to plans filed with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Contaminated cylinders and a polluted sludge pile also will be carted away from the site for disposal…….

May 14, 2020 - Posted by | environment, incidents, USA

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