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Out of Control - On Purpose:
DOE's Dispersal of Radioactive Waste into Landfills and Consumer Products


November 16, 2009: Presentation on nuclear waste processing and landfill disposal in TN to Tennessee State House of Representatives 2009 summer study committee , PDF on behalf of Tennessee Conservation Voters, Tennessee Environmental Council and Citizens to End Nuclear Dumping in Tennessee and Nuclear Information and Resource Service.

Links to WSMV stories related to Out Of Control-On Purpose report (click here)

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Radioactive materials are being released from nuclear weapons facilities to regular landfills and into commercial recycling streams where they can be used to make everyday household items.

This is a key finding of a new NIRS report: Out of Control – On Purpose: DOE's Dispersal of Radioactive Waste into Landfills and Consumer Products. The report was commissioned to track the DOE’s policies and procedures for releasing nuclear wastes from nuclear bomb production. The report was released on May 14, 2007.

Under the current system, the DOE and other nuclear waste generators either release contaminated materials directly or send their waste to processors who can then release it from radioactive controls to landfills, to recyclers or to auction for reuse.

The report includes a detailed assessment of DOE’s policies, and a special focus on Tennessee which licenses companies to bring nuclear waste into the state where it is then processed and in some cases “redefined” as not radioactive or as “special.” It can then be sent to regular trash dumps or other facilities. This opens up the potential for the materials to enter the recycling stream to make everyday household items or to be used to build roads, schools, and playgrounds.

The Executive Summary, full report (including executive summary) and all Appendices are available for download below.

Read press release here.

Full report, with appendices PDF

Executive Summary PDF

Appendix A. PDF 1999 Tennessee Radioactive Materials/Waste Processors Chart
Appendix B. PDF 2006 Tennessee Radioactive Materials/Waste Processors Chart
Appendix C. PDF Department of Energy press release: Secretarial Announcement Blocking Nickel Recycling at Oak Ridge and “prohibiting the release of all volumetrically contaminated metals” January 12, 2000
Appendix D. PDF Department of Energy press release: Secretarial Announcement of Suspension of Release of Materials (Metals) from DOE Facilities July 13, 2000
Appendix E. PDF DOE Secretarial Memo on Release of Surplus and Scrap Materials July 13, 2000
Appendix F. PDF DOE Radiological Release of Property: Flow Chart
Appendix G. PDF 2001 Tennessee Department Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Division of Radiological Health White Paper streamlining accepting nuclear waste at landfills
Appendix H. PDF 2006 TDEC Memo of Agreement between Divisions of Solid Waste and Radiological Health allowing landfill disposal of radioactive waste as “special” without “permit-by-rule”
Appendix I. PDF DOE 5400.5 Surface Contamination Release Levels
Appendix J. PDF Excerpt from Nuclear Regulatory Commission Below Regulatory Concern policy on risks from radiation doses
Appendix K. PDF Talking Points, US Department of Energy, Notice of Intent to Prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on the Disposition of Radioactive Scrap Metals
Appendix L. PDF NIRS FOIA Request to DOE/NNSA re all Authorized and Supplemental Limits for Radioactive Release May 2007
Appendix M. PDF Concentrated Benefit over Diffuse Injury, by John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D., and Egan O'Connor
Appendix N. PDF Why Radioactive Wastes Should be Sequestered for the Full Duration of their Hazard: Considering the “MACS Effect,” by Judith Johnsrud, Ph.D
Appendix O. PDF References

June 15, 2007: NIRS report “Out of Control --- On Purpose” revealed that at least 4 or 5 regular trash landfills in Tennessee are accepting radioactive wastes. Residents in the communities near the Middle Point BFI Allied solid waste landfill in Murfreesboro, Rutherford County, TN have set up a website, are petitioning the state to stop sending nuclear waste to their landfill, and appear to have gotten a moratorium on the dumping until a study is completed. Other communities around the other landfills are also raising concerns. The landfills are Middle Point in Murfreesboro, Carter’s Valley in Church Hill, Chestnut Ridge in Heiskell and North and South Shelby landfills near Memphis.

NIRS comments to TDEC TN Dept of Envt and Conservation Solid Waste Advisory Committee considering nuclear waste going to Middle Point landfill. PDF July 24, 2007.

November 3, 2007: NIRS Statement at the Memphis Sierra Club Annual Environmental Justice Conference.PDF

Ongoing coverage of Tennessee radioactive waste dumping in landfills from Demetria Kalodimos of WSMV-TV news: