Wednesday, August 7, 2013

INL contamination is from past practices


    I recently read a letter to the editor in the Idaho Mountain Express encouraging support for the Snake River Alliance and their work as a nuclear watchdog. Much of the letter was dedicated to the claim that used nuclear fuel management and radioactive pollution are contaminating the Snake River Plain Aquifer and threatening the Magic Valley food supplies.
    Seriously? No one is disputing the fact that there is contamination at the INL that needs to be cleaned up. Most of this contamination is from past practices in the 1950s and 1960s disposing of Rocky Flats waste material. According to the detailed environmental studies, radioactive constituents have been detected in the aquifer at such minuscule levels that it is unlikely they will ever come close, let alone exceed, safe drinking water standards outside the DOE site boundaries.
    However, those same studies show that the big issue is organic degreasers like trichloroethylene (TCE) and carbon tetrachloride that made it to the aquifer from Rocky Flats waste. While the cleanup contractors have done a great job (959 0f the 964 milestones under the 1995 Settlement Agreement have been completed) and a lot has been accomplished, we can’t lose focus before the cleanup is complete.
    If you are truly concerned about the aquifer, forgo the anti-nuclear fear-mongering and inaccurate claims that current practices are causing the problem, and join us in advocating for adequate funding to complete the cleanup of the INL site. If you are a thinking person worried about the aquifer, check out the overview of groundwater conditions at the INL by going to the following site: http://line.idaho.gov/pdf/DEQ.pdf.
Lane Allgood
Idaho Falls




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