Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Fernald releases uranium into river

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

CROSBY TWP. - More than 2.2 million gallons of uranium-tainted rainwater was discharged into the Great Miami River from the Fernald nuclear clean-up site during three days last week, a report indicated.

The dirty water was blended with clean water before being dumped into the river, according to the report filed by Fluor Daniel, the company responsible for the Fernald cleanup. Still, the uranium levels were at least double, and sometimes triple, the amount allowable in drinking water, even after being blended.

The discharges are permitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and thus allowable by law. The EPA does, however, limit to 10 the total number of discharges in one year. Fluor Daniel has used seven days so far this year.

The last discharge came in July, when 2.9 million gallons of rainwater tainted with uranium was discharged into the river from the nuclear cleanup site. The water carried levels of uranium nearly three times the amount allowable for safe drinking water.

Bill Hertel, manager of aquifer restoration at the cleanup site, said the water poses no health risks to humans.

"Not after it's mixed in the river," Hertel said. "We usually have to discharge when the river level is very high, and that was the case last week."

The discharges are necessary in times of heavy rain to keep a retention basin from overflowing into Paddy's Run, a small stream that bleeds into the Great Miami Aquifer. The aquifer was contaminated during plant operations from 1953 to 1989.


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