THE STATE HAS REJECTED THE ARMY'S PLAN TO LEAVE SIGNIFICANT CONTAMINATION IN THE TOWN OF TONAWANDA LANDFILL

The twice extended comment period on the Army's "no action" proposal closed on September 13; see news story.

FACTS sent a copy of its comments (F.A.C.T.S.' Comments on the Proposed Plan for the Tonawanda Landfill Vicinity Property) to NYS DEC at the end of July along with a request that DEC reciprocate with its comments. While the DEC's Tonawanda Landfill comments call for the off-site removal of most of the MED contamination, the actual concentrations of Uranium-238, Radium-226, and Thorium-230 that the State will allow the Army to leave on the property are not specified. Instead, the DEC call for removal of the MED waste while commendable in itself appears to stem solely from State's solid waste site closure setback requirements rather than from enforcement of the appropriate radiological cleanup standards for this residential area, i.e. Option 1 of the 1981 NRC BTP (see FACTS comments).

The State's failure to identify the appropriate radiological cleanup standards in its comments is the result of an attempt to accomodate the Town of Tonawanda. Although it clearly should require their removal, the State has said it will not require removal of the EAD-sourced americium wastes from the Town's landfill. Following the bankruptcy of the EAD smoke detector company (formerly on Ensminger Rd), responsibility for the cost of americium removal fell to the Town. (An unexpected side effect of inexpensive ion chamber smoke detectors).

Background:
Since 1998, when Congress appointed the Army Corps of Engineers to take over the remediation of the FUSRAP sites, USACE has made one poor decision after another (see Army Improperly Selects Cleanup Criteria). Their "No Action" plan for the Tonawanda Landfill, issued on March 26, 2007, is just the latest example; seriously deficient 'cleanups' are already completed (the Ashland properties) or nearing completion (Linde).
Over ten years ago the Department of Energy identified a substantial quantity (15,000 cubic yards) of Manhattan Project contamination that needed to be removed from the Tonawanda Landfill property. This waste includes 1.3 Curies of Radium-226, the most radium on any of the Tonawanda FUSRAP properties designated for cleanup. See excerpt from a 1995 F.A.C.T.S. Newsletter.
Despite DOE's former statements, the Army Corps has claimed no responsibility for these wastes, plans no waste removal, and plans to allow these federal radioactive wastes to be capped along with the Americium-241 sludges from the defunct EAD smoke detector company. Mismanagement of the americium waste was the result of State and local government irresponsibility. Collusion of all three levels of government to cap this area would only perpetuate the serious mistakes of the past and render this area yet another long-term nuclear sacrifice zone.
Local residents have responded by forming a group called CURE, hiring attorney Richard Lippes, and bringing a damages suit against the Town of Tonawanda.

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