Monday, April 03, 2006

Not in my backyard!

KERSEY – Will Elk County soon be the final resting place of nuclear contaminated ash from the Pittsburgh region? Local municipal leaders are already gearing up for the backlash that will be released once more people are informed of it.

If all goes as the Kiski Valley Water Pollution Control Authority has planned, 12,000 cubic meters of nuclear-contaminated ash sitting in an old wastewater treatment lagoon in Allegheny Township will be relocated to the Onyx Greentree Landfill in Fox Township.

“I was riding the fence. The technical information makes it look not so bad, but until I get more information, I am generally opposed to the idea,” Fox Township Supervisor Chairman Mike Keller said. “There’s got to be a reason that it was classified as low-level nuclear waste and then they changed the interpretation. It makes me wonder why a few years ago it had to be disposed of in a low-level facility and now they say it’s safe to consider it for a municipal land fill. I have a problem with that. If somebody explains that to me, maybe I will feel better, but I doubt it.”

St. Marys City manager David Greene passed out copies of articles about the landfill found on the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the Valley News Dispatch describing what is coming during the St. Marys City Council meeting on Monday night. Green said it was given out for information only. “We made copies for Council for them to be aware of it,” Greene said. “I just thought they should know.”

According to the April 3 article, the authority received a permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection in October to remove the ash that was contaminated between 1978 and 1984 by waste from the former Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corp., and its successor companies Atlantic Richfield and then Babcock & Wilcox. The companies processed nuclear materials in plants in Apollo and Parks until the mid-1980s.

The Kiski Valley Water Pollution Control Authority accepted wastewater from these plants, which was treated, leaving behind uranium in the sewage plant treatment lagoon ash.

Following tonight’s meeting, St. Marys City Councilman Mark Kopp said. “The way I see it is there’s none there right now, so how is it going to benefit us by having it there? It’s already a health risk or why move it? Red flags should be going up. This isn’t going to go away in 20 years. I don’t like the idea of it. If it was so safe, they would just leave it there.”

For residents with questions, the regular monthly meeting of the Fox Township Supervisors will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5 at the Fox Township building. A Onyx Greentree Landfill representative was invited to be present and indicated he would attend, according to Keller.


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