Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

March 22, 2005
Radiation found in rail car puddles

Nearly half of 17 train cars full of radioactive waste from Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York arrived at Envirocare last week with puddles of liquid in the bottom of the cars.

One of the puddles registered traces of radiation and Dane Finerfrock, Director of Radiation Control at Utah’s Department of Envrionmental Quality said, “This is something we take seriously.”

He said there is a possibility that “squeeze water” from the waste could have leaked out, but noted there are no visable tears in the container that held the waste. The other possibility is that the water came from precipitation.

This is the theory that Envirocare embraces.

Tim Barney, Envirocare vice president, believes the water was from snow that had fallen into the cars and melted while the waste was being loaded in New York.

The waste was put into plastic containers before it was loaded into the cars and then the cars were covered by a tarp for the cross-country trip. The loading process happened to occur during heavy east coast rain and snow storms.

Envirocare said there was no exposure or danger from the cars and that the radiation level found in the water was miniscule. But to be on the safe side, Envirocare has stopped accepting shipments of waste from Brookhaven until the issue can be sorted out.

The DEQ is investigating loading procedures at Brookhaven and is checking out the route the waste took to get to Envriocare to determine if any leaks occured during transport.

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