The Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility (CFFF) owned and operated by Westinghouse is located off Bluff Road in Hopkins, Lower Richland County, South Carolina. It manufactures nuclear fuel assemblies used in power plants. Leaks at the site have been an ongoing concern.
Information about leaks and other radiological accidents are sent in technical documents difficult for ordinary South Carolinians to interpret.
The decision by the Westinghouse Fuel Fabrication plant near Columbia, SC to ship 3 types of radioactive waste materials to US Ecology in Idaho affirms current problems with nuclear waste at the site. It implies future waste generation and reveals that the problems here are being dumped elsewhere. According to Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 237 / Wednesday, December 9, 2020, (https://public inspection.federalregister.gov/2020-26973.pdf), there are three waste streams being considered to go to Idaho: 1) lagoon waste, 2) dredged calcium fluoride (CaF2) sludge and 3) 526 obsolete uranium hexafluoride (UF6) containers. In addition to the obvious health and safety issues involved with transporting radioactive wastes across the country, we are concerned that more of these wastes will be created and stored at the Westinghouse site after the shipment to Idaho. The risks in packaging this large amount of waste and transporting it in trucks or railcars have not been adequately explained to the communities surrounding the plant or to any others who may be affected. To make matters worse, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering approving exemptions to US Ecology, Inc. (USEI) from the NRC licensing requirements to allow USEI to receive and dispose the material from CFFF without an NRC license (see document linked above). According to Diane D’Arrigo, radioactive waste project director for the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, even low level radiation can cause death within 15 minutes if exposed unshielded. https://www.publicnewsservice.org/2020-04-06/nuclear-waste/nrc-proposes-allowing-nuclear-waste-at-dumps-recycling-sites/a69794-1
Columbia Friends Meeting requests a full accounting of the handling of this waste to be shipped, the types, amounts, and onsite storage, and shipping plans of future wastes generated, and the inspection schedules to be revealed in the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) anticipated in April 2021.
Further, Columbia Friends Meeting request that NRC and Westinghouse set up a special comment period with residents in South Carolina and in Idaho, the proposed radioactive waste destination state for possibly the next 40 years. In addition, we request that the NRC produce a scoping process and develop a draft EIS for the Idaho site complete with documentation.
The waste currently at the site and planned future waste creation underscores that a license for 40years must not be issued by the NRC.
For additional information, please contact Columbia Friends at [email protected].