The Department of Energy will solicit more public input this fall on plans for a new low-level waste landfill, the Environmental Management Disposal Facility project, at the Oak Ridge Site in Tennessee, before issuing an updated draft of its record of decision in December, according to an agency spokesperson.
The DOE Office of Environmental Management received comments earlier this month from the state of Tennessee and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the prior draft record of decision (ROD), the spokesperson said in an email late Thursday. “We intend to provide the updated document back to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation in December.”
The spokesperson also said DOE is “planning additional public outreach about the Environmental Management Disposal Facility project this fall, and we will provide additional information when the dates are scheduled.”
Approval of the new on-site landfill, to replace an existing one expected to be full by 2028, has dragged on since 2018 amid concerns over wastewater carrying radionuclides into a tributary of Bear Creek.
In an appearance before the House of Representatives in May, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said she recognized the importance of developing the 2.2-million-cubic yard landfill to clean up of mercury-laden buildings around the Y-12 National Security Site and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. At the same time, Granholm said it is important to deal with environmental justice concerns voiced by citizen groups.
The federal Oak Ridge property is a Superfund site, which makes EPA a key regulator. The current landfill, also located at Oak Ridge’s Central Bear Creek Valley, has been mostly filled with debris from the demolition of structures at the former K-25 gaseous diffusion plant complex, now known as the East Tennessee Technology Park.