Trucks transport debris from Oak Ridge’s cleanup sites to the onsite CERCLA disposal area, the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility.
The low-level radiological and hazardous wastes generated from Oak Ridge’s cleanup projects are disposed in the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility (EMWMF). The EMWMF is comprised of six disposal areas that have a total capacity of 2.2 million cubic yards. EM ensures waste is accurately characterized so materials sent to the disposal area comply with all of the regulations included in the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.
Oak Ridge lowers risks and saves tens of millions of dollars by avoiding transportation and disposal costs by sending low-level waste to the onsite EMWMF. Materials often include soil, sediment, building demolition debris, personal protection equipment, and scrap equipment. Despite the low-level waste rating, the Oak Ridge Office of EM adheres to strict safety measures for onsite disposal.
First, employees characterize waste at cleanup projects to ensure only appropriate waste enters the EMWMF. Second, engineers designed the area for long-term storage without risk to the environment or community. The disposal area contains a 13-foot thick multi-layered closure cap system. In addition, EM designed the EMWMF to include a collection and transfer system, support facilities, access roads, storm water retention basins, and monitoring and security systems. Finally, the local EM program constructed a road specifically to safely haul waste from cleanup sites to the EMWMF, allowing trucks to avoid public highways.
The disposal area opened in 2002, and it was fully expanded in 2011. However, with the high volume of waste deriving from demolition projects across Oak Ridge, EM must identify a new area and begin construction to begin accepting waste by 2020.
The Oak Ridge Office of EM sends higher level radioactive waste to the Nevada National Security Site, and it sends the Transuranic Waste Processing Center waste streams to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico.