Radioactive waste data removed from Tennessee state website
Nov. 21, 2017
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has removed data from its website about the amount of low-level radioactive waste going into landfills.
The information had been open to the public for years before the department said it is confidential, The Tennessean reports .
A 2007 state law cites the Atomic Energy Act and an agreement with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission on what information to keep confidential, department spokesman Eric Ward said. However, commission spokesman David McIntyre said he knows of no law or rule that makes confidential the location and quantity of waste.
Ward said in a Friday email the department "is working toward a solution," and it intends "to have the authority to soon begin providing that information again."
Low-level radioactive waste includes contaminated materials from commercial reactors, such as lab supplies, machine parts, power plant equipment and debris from decommissioned nuclear plants.
Tennessee has more radioactive waste processors than any other state in the nation, according the department. The processors can treat radioactive waste before it is disposed in landfills as low-level waste.
The waste deposited in landfills does not pose a danger to public health or the environment, according to the department.
More than 5 million pounds (2 million kilograms) of low-level radioactive waste has been released into state landfills between 2014 and 2016, according to information the department no longer publishes but was accessed through cached versions of its website.
"The transparency is not there and the public is being left in the dark," Tennessee Environmental Council board member Don Safer said. "Low level does not mean low risk."
Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com