Monday, February 28, 2000

Hanford to get Flats waste
Shipments of ‘orphan waste’ to begin in 2003

Colorado Daily Staff Report

Rocky Flats, the former atomic-bomb factory south of Boulder, may finally be able to find a home for its so-called "orphan waste."

The Department of Energy announced Friday that it has designated the Hanford nuclear site, in the state of Washington, to receive certain types of nuclear waste from other DOE complex sites -- including some low-level "mixed" waste from Rocky Flats.

"This is definitely a significant step forward," said Jeremy Karpatkin, a Rocky Flats spokesman.

Karpatkin estimated that the ongoing cleanup of Rocky Flats will generate approximately 5,000 cubic meters of low-level mixed waste -- waste containing both radioactive and otherwise hazardous contaminants -- with a radioactivity level between 10 nanocuries and 100 nanocuries. Until now, there has been no site to which Rocky Flats could send this category of waste.

A previous proposal to send this waste to a commercial hazardous-waste dump in eastern Colorado died after meeting resistance from residents of the area as well as Gov. Bill Owens.

Karpatkin said that despite Friday's announcement, DOE would continue to look for other potential receiver sites, in order to keep its options open.

Shipments of the waste formerly known as "orphan waste" is scheduled to begin in 2003 but could begin sooner, he said.