Environment News Service

AmeriScan: September 28, 1999

CONTAMINATED PENNSYLVANIA SITE CLEANED UP, REOPENED

PULASKI, Pennsylvania, September 28, 1999 (ENS) - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has opened a once contaminated site in Pulaski, Pennsylvania, for unrestricted use, saying cleanup has reduced contamination to safe levels. The site was owned by The Pesses Company, a metals and alloys producer (now METCOA, Inc. - Metals Company of America) that used thorium scrap alloy in its foundries at the Pulaski site. Thorium is a radioactive material licensed by the NRC for commercial uses. Pesses also used other hazardous materials at the 22 acre facility, and most of the site contamination was non-radioactive. In September 1984, a routine NRC inspection found the Pulaski facility abandoned. The Pesses Company had merged with METCOA without notifying the NRC, and in 1983, filed for bankruptcy. The NRC detected radiation levels well above normal background levels on 55 gallon drums and other areas of the site. More than 300 drums, boxes, debris and slag piles were found.

In 1997, a group of organizations that had sent wastes to the site agreed to clean up the site. Contractors worked to clean up the contamination until mid-1998. Radioactive wastes were shipped to a waste site in Utah for disposal. After surveys by the contractors, the NRC and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the NRC has concluded that the site has been cleaned up and meets its criteria for unrestricted use. The Pesses site has been removed from the NRC’s Site Decommissioning Management Plan, which identifies about 34 sites contaminated with radioactive materials that warrant special attention to ensure proper cleanup.

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