Monday, April 7, 2003

Fernald cleanup might beat deadline

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

CROSBY TWP. - The cleanup of the Fernald former uranium processing plant is on schedule to be completed by December 2006.

It might even be finished by the middle of 2006, said Jeff Wagner, spokesman for Fluor Fernald, the contractor overseeing the cleanup of the Crosby Township site.

"We're trying to bring it in as early into that year as we can," Wagner said.

The last of the usable uranium was shipped off the site last year. The remaining cleanup work includes:

• Removing 8,900 cubic yards of radioactive waste from two K-65 silos surrounded by earthen berms. After a failed plan to melt the waste into glass-like chunks, the current plan calls for moving the waste into temporary transfer tanks, encasing the waste in concrete, then shipping it away.

Fluor Fernald officials haven't decided whether to ship the waste to a Nevada site by trucks or transport it by rail to Envirocare, a waste operation in Clive, Utah, Wagner said.

"We think the safest option is to ship it by rail to Utah," he said.

Another 5,100 cubic yards of cold metal oxides from a third silo will be sent to Envirocare.

• Emptying the remaining waste from six waste pits. About 60 percent of the waste has been removed.

• Demolishing the remaining four buildings on site. This will be completed by September.

• Completing a landfill containing eight long-term waste storage cells. Each above-ground cell will be large enough to hold 2.5 million cubic yards of contaminated soil and debris from the demolition of on-site buildings.

One cell has been filled with waste and capped. Another cell is filled and will be capped this year. A third cell is half filled with waste, and two other cells are less than 10 percent full. Fluor Fernald will build liners for two other cells this year.

• Finishing the aquifer cleanup. Fluor Fernald is extracting contaminated water from the aquifer and pumping in clean water. The job is about 65 percent complete, Wagner said.

Since 1993, Fluor Fernald has extracted nearly 12 billion gallons of contaminated water from the aquifer and 4,450 pounds of uranium.

• Removing the remaining 10,000 drums of radioactive byproducts and other chemical waste. This will be completed by June 30, Wagner said. There had been more than 100,000 drums on the site.

Lisa Crawford, president of Fernald Residents for Environmental Safety and Health (FRESH), said she's satisfied with the status of the cleanup operation.

Fluor Fernald holds public cleanup progress briefings every two months. The next one is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Crosby Township Senior/Community Center, 8910 Willey Road.


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