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Logic would suggest that if you keep adding more of something to a heap, the total amount would become greater. According to TDEC, this logic does not apply to radioactive waste. No matter how much is added, it all amounts to 1 millirem of exposure per year, forever and ever.https://www.nirs.org/radwaste/llw/senatepresentation032011.pdf This was written about the Tennessee Dept. of Environment, but appears to be the same illogic used by all, or almost all, nuclear-radiation policy makers.

What is it about Tennessee, which makes the rest of the US and even Europe so keen to dump their nuclear waste there?
Elvis parking sign
Certainly it isn’t Tennessee’s great musicians, or those who got their start there. Europeans, especially, still love to fete Mississippi born Elvis and B.B. King, both of whom got their start in Memphis, Tennessee, and Tina Turner, who was born and grew up in Tennessee. Miley Cyrus was also born in Tennessee. On Friday a Tina Turner Museum in her former school opened at the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, Tennessee. (Song about her hometown of Nutbush Tennessee here: http://youtu.be/KehOkjKrxrI)
Tina Turner birthplace store

The French pretend to love B.B. King, and yet…
BB King Blues Club in Memphis Beale St.
BB King Blues Club on Beale St. in Memphis, Tennessee

Tennessee is targeted by 85% French govt. owned EDF as a potential place for sending radioactive waste from its 15 UK Nuclear Reactors, and possibly from any of its reactors (which would bring the grand total to around 85 – especially concerning since EDF France has 9 reactors being decommissioned with currently no place to go). (In 2013, German radioactive waste was burned in Tennessee). The request involves using two Scottish nuclear power plants as collection points for EDF nuclear waste, among other things. The waste may or may not return to Scotland after it is “processed”. Recall that it can be English or possibly even French nuclear waste and not even Scottish either! Details are here: http://www.sepa.org.uk/about_us/consultations.aspx The EDF documents list Tennessee, as well as other places. “Responses to the consultation should be sent in writing no later than 3 October 2014 to either The Registrar Scottish Environment Protection Agency Angus Smith Building Parklands Avenue Eurocentral Holytown North Lanarkshire ML1 4WQ Or registry.angussmith@sepa.org.uk

So, just what’s so special about Nuclear Waste in Tennessee?
Nuclear Waste in Tennessee“, no author given but we think it is by Don Safer, President, Tennessee Environmental Council, original here: https://www.nirs.org/radwaste/llw/senatepresentation032011.pdf
[Since this was written Studsvik was sold to Energy Solutions and Germany burned radioactive waste in Tennessee in 2013.]

Tennessee’s Leadership Role as Radioactive Waste Disposer for the Nation

In the year 2000 (the last year that the NRC compiled these numbers in a state by state comparison) Tennessee sent 58.6% of the materials that were disposed at the 3 landfills in the U.S. licensed to receive radioactive materials. Add the radioactive materials that were incinerated and land -filled and Tennessee received at least 75% of the nation’s low-level radioactive waste.


The N-Waste Disposal
• Many older nuclear reactors and weapons facilities have been closed.
• The home states want to get rid of their waste.

•Tennessee, the VOLUNTEER state, has licensed nuclear processors that reduce the bulk of waste, but not its radiation.

Decades ago TDEC entered into agreements with the nuclear industry to create the Bulk Survey For Release program. (Note that the name does not include the words nuclear or radioactive.).

BSFR Program is Born


TDEC held no public hearings to inform the people, local officials, or the TN legislature of their nuclear agreement. The BSFR program would still be secret if the national nuclear watchdog NIRS had not reported it, and then it was publicized in news stories on Channel 4 television in Nashville.


Unlike the NRC and other states, Tennessee does not analyze incoming waste on a case-by-case basis. TDEC stands alone among the state regulators in the extent to which they have reduced the “regulatory burden” on companies that produce, process and/or dispose of radioactive waste.

How does Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation Measure & Monitor Radiation Levels in Tennessee’s Landfills?


Processors bringing Radioactive Waste into Tennessee are responsible for monitoring the levels of radiation from point of source—i.e. self-monitoring

Private processors decide which nuclear materials can be reclassified from licensed radioactive waste to regular trash that goes to our municipal landfills—more self-monitoring. TDEC occasionally inspects the paper work.

Where does Rad Waste come from?

• Only 20% of the low level radioactive waste that goes into Tennessee landfills is generated from within the state.

• Waste from decommissioned reactors and other sources comes to Tennessee for processing and burial from as far away as California, Michigan, Connecticut, Washington state, New York and others. Some has come from Canada, Mexico and Brazil, perhaps other countries.

The state receives 1½ cents per pound for all radioactive waste that goes to processors.

AMOUNTS OF Rad Waste in 2004-2006 38,343,961 lbs in 3 years

• North Shelby 3,677,876
• South Shelby 0
• Carter Valley 0
• Chestnut Ridge 0
• Middle Point (from Impact 165,858)

• North Shelby 9,823,073
• South Shelby o
• Carter Valley 7,481,581
• Middle Point (Impact 10,130,000)

• North Shelby 1,302,663
• South Shelby 966,937
• Carter Valley 3,261,010
• Chestnut Ridge 191,194
• Middle Point 1,343,769
(Impact 590,570; Toxco 753,199)

POUNDS of Rad Waste 2007-09

Landfill 2007 2008 2009

North Shelby 2,000,000 180,000 179,000
South Shelby 530,000 850,000 1,770,000
Middle Point 400,000 zero zero
Chestnut Ridge 1,300,000 890,000 1,861,000
Carters Valley 495,000 140,000 150,000
_________ _______ ________
4,725,000 2,060,000 3,960,000

TOTAL FOR 3 YRS: 10,745,000 pounds

Shelby County Tennessee
N. Shelby Landfill
[Image not in original]

• North Shelby County Landfill has received the most radioactive waste of any landfill in TN, over 17 Million Pounds in 6 years.

The city of Memphis depends upon an underground aquifer for its drinking water.

If the drinking water is contaminated, the health and welfare of 670,000 people will be threatened. Memphis is the largest city in Tennessee.

Memphis lies on an earthquake fault. Even a minor earthquake might damage those landfills and pollute the water.

Types of Radioactive Waste

High-Level waste does not go into landfills. It sits in casks and cooling pools on the reactor sites.

The U.S. has no middle level classification. What is classified as Mid-Level waste in Europe is called “Low-Level” in the U.S.

“Low-Level” Radioactive Waste does not mean “low risk.” “Low-level” waste includes the same atoms as high level waste– plutonium, cesium, strontium, and iodine– but in lower concentrations.

Kinds of Low-Level Waste

Class A—lowest level
Class B—higher level
Class C—highest level
Greater that Class C

Landfill Facts

• Municipal landfills were never intended for radioactive waste

LINER LIFE IS 30 YEARS; radiation lasts for thousands of years or more.

Eventually most if not all landfills leak.

Once radioactive material is buried, the state does no further checking on the contents. Leachate is not checked for radiation.

Logic would suggest that if you keep adding more of something to a heap, the total amount would become greater. According to TDEC, this logic does not apply to radioactive waste. No matter how much is added, it all amounts to 1 millirem of exposure per year, forever and ever.

DANGERS of Radioactive Waste
sources: EPA & physicians

• INGESTED RADIATION, whether breathed in from the air, or consumed through drinking water, or from foods grown on contaminated land, is far more toxic to living creatures than external radiation.

• Radiation ACCUMULATES in the body. The doses we take in, whether from natural or man-made sources, accumulate over our lifetimes and damage our cells. Cancer can take 50 years to develop, or much less.

There is no such thing as a safe dose, no matter how small.

BEIR VII REPORT of the National Academy of Sciences: Study of the health risks from exposure to low levels of Ionizing Radiation

• The committee concludes that the higher the dose, the greater the risk.
• In case of exposure of fetuses in the womb, increased incidences of cancer can be detected at low doses.
• Cells do not necessarily have to be hit directly by a radiation track for the cell to be affected, damaging the cell’s DNA.
• The committee concludes that the preponderance of information indicates that there will be some risk, even at low doses.

“There is no safe level of exposure and there is no dose of radiation so low that the risk of a malignancy is zero.”–Dr. Karl Morgan, from Oak Ridge, dubbed the father of Health Physics

Tennessee Radioactive Waste Facilities

•EnergySolutions at Oak Ridge and Memphis
•Studsvik and Studsvik RACE at Erwin and Memphis
•Impact at Oak Ridge
•PermaFix at Kingston and Oak Ridge
•Nuclear Fuel Services at Erwin
•Philotechnics at Oak Ridge •
Bionomics at Oak Ridge
•Aerojet at Jonesborough

Processors in Tennessee that Heat Treat Radioactive Waste

•EnergySolutions in Oak Ridge- 2 incinerators
•DSSI PermaFix in Kingston- radioactive and mixed waste boiler, processes PCBs •Studsvik in Erwin– pyroprocessing
•IMPACT in Oak Ridge – pyroprocessing
•Duratek metal melt in Oak Ridge
•TOXCO metal melt in Oak Ridge
•Aerojet oxidizer in Jonesborough (metallic uranium chips)


• ENERGY SOLUTIONS wants to IMPORT 1,000 tons of radioactive waste from Germany to burn in Oak Ridge. This will open the door to Europe’s “LOW LEVEL” RADIOACTIVE WASTE coming to our state.

• ENERGY SOLUTIONS withdrew its application to import 20,000 tons of rad waste from Italy, but it is reworking the application. The original plan was to burn, melt and otherwise process in Tennessee these materials from decommissioned nuclear plants.


1) Older incinerators tend to be more polluting than are newer ones that have more processes for cleaning out pollutants.

The EnergySolutions incinerators that will burn German waste are over 20 years old.

2) When incinerators stop and start up again, they emit large amounts of dioxin, a potent carcinogen.

EnergySolutions says they will clean out their incinerators before and after each burn of German waste.

Facts about Incineration

• Incineration produces toxic and carcinogenic substances such as dioxins, furans, particlate matter, heavy metals such as lead and mercury.

• When considering the impact of an incinerator, it is necessary to consider the collective impact of incinerators in the region.

• Oak Ridge has 4 incinerators within fairly close proximity.

• To our knowledge, NO environmental impact study has been ever been done.
The incinerators at Oak Ridge have burnt radioactive waste since the late 1980s. Small particles can travel great distances.

Of the 25 cities in the U.S. most polluted by Year-Round Particle Pollution, Knoxville-Sevierville-LaFollette, Tennessee, ranked 21st in the nation in 2010. (source: American Lung Association)

For other facts on incineration see printed “Incineration: A Factsheet“

Bringing Higher Level Waste to Tennessee Two Tennessee processors want to bring higher level Class B and C radioactive waste to Tennessee from nuclear reactors in 36 states. EnergySolutions would lower the classification by blending with less concentrated Class A waste in Oak Ridge. Studsvik would cook these radioactive resins for significant volume reduction in Erwin, Tennessee.


Erwin, TN, is home to both Nuclear Fuel Services and Studsvik.

A study released on Nov. 11, 2010, shows the troubled Nuclear Fuel Services in Erwin is apparently discharging enriched uranium into the Nolichucky River. Uranium was found up to 45 miles down river from the plant.

Steam generators Memphis NIRS Nuclear Waste in TN
The Studsvik facility on President’s Island in Memphis is the only place in the U.S. where radioactive steam generators from pressurized water reactors are taken for processing or dismantling. These units are up to 70 feet tall and weigh as much as 800 tons. These must be taken apart, piece by piece to separate the parts that are highly radioactive. These contain a significant amount of plutonium and other dangerous radionuclides. Much of the material deemed to be “extremely low level” by Studsvik will end up in the North or South Shelby landfills.


RACE (Radiological Assistance Consulting and Engineering) in Memphis, purchased by Studsvik, agreed in January of 2010 to pay a $650,000 fine to settle claims by the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it had intentionally exposed African-American employees to higher levels of radiation than those faced by white workers…. https://www.nirs.org/radwaste/llw/senatepresentation032011.pdf
Sloppy practices, fires and accidents at the Nuclear Fuel Services facility in Erwin forced the NRC to temporarily shut down all of its operations in December of 2009. http://www.nonukesyall.org/Tennessee_rad_waste.html


• The nuclear industry in Tennessee has been a high risk enterprise with low visibility.
•The Secret City has spawned a secret industry.
• The Division of Radiological Health has no control board and INADEQUATE OVERSIGHT.
• The Division of Radiological Health does not allow meaningful public participation.
• The DRH needs to make documents available to the public in electronic form. Their website is inadequate.
” (Emphasis our own) The entire original presentation is available here: https://www.nirs.org/radwaste/llw/senatepresentation032011.pdf There are additional pictures in the original which we have not included. Additionally google image of N. Shelby Landfill is not in the original. The presentation is almost certainly by Don Safer, possibly in collaboration with Diane D’Arrigo. An almost identical article by Don Safer appears here: http://www.nonukesyall.org/Tennessee_rad_waste.html In most places where TN appeared in the original, we wrote out Tennessee for clarity. Also, we replaced 0 with zero due to formatting.

Related Info:
Studsvik RACE Here in Memphis, Studsvik-RACE processes large contaminated components from nuclear power and weapons facilities and super-compacts paper, plastic, wood, cardboard, rubber, metal (pipes, valves, motors, conduit, wire, etc.) asbestos, soils and debris in addition to many other activities. Studsvik, at its Erwin, TN site, ‘thermally processes’ radioactive resins –some of the hottest so-called ‘low-level’ radioactive waste from nuclear power reactors. Community concerns stopped the company here in Memphis and later in Erwin from opening a new nuclear incinerator, but they still perform other nuclear processes in both locations. (Their current website indicates incineration intent.) In Sweden, their origin, they “recycle” radioactive metal from closed European nuclear reactors into the everyday metal recycling market to make anything made of metal. They have gotten contracts to “process” closed nuclear complexes in the UK including the infamous Sellafield reprocessing site, attributed with radioactively contaminating the Irish Sea.http://www.nirs.org/radwaste/outofcontrol/memphisfocus.pdf

Major efforts have been undertaken by the nuclear industry, the so-called regulators and the international radiation promoting agencies such as IAEA, ICRP, OECD NEA and EURATOM/EC to deny the danger of dispersing large volumes of radioactive materials. Computer codes have been devised and false claims about acceptable doses have been perpetrated and circulated to give the impression that nuclear waste is being safely taken care of, but it is not. Dispersion starts here in the Baltic Region and it can be stopped here.

In the U.S. we have been fighting every agency’s efforts to legalize selling nuclear waste for commercial purposes. We appeal to our allies in Europe and elsewhere to join this battle, which was waged here years ago but is currently not well known.

Two of the world’s few radioactive waste metal recyclers are Studsvik in Nyköping, Sweden and Ecomet-S across the Baltic Sea in St. Petersburg. These companies are recycling radioactive metal from nuclear power and other facilities and selling them to companies for use in a wide range of products.

In the U.S. we have been fighting hard to stop these practices. Several companies have licenses to process and release radioactive metal in the U.S. We believe that pressure from the public and metal industry are preventing wholesale unrestricted releases. Three of the U.S. companies, ToxCo, EnergySolutions (formerly Duratek) and Aerojet (which processes depleted uranium), have Metal Melt licenses from the State of Tennessee. The U.S. federal government has not been able to make rules via democratic public processes to generically deregulate nuclear wastes. The only way they are able to do it is secretively through exemptions and license amendments. There is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) ban on the commercial recycling of nuclear weapons wastes. However, as metal prices rise, there is growing pressure from DOE sites where the metal is stored to overturn or circumvent that prohibition.” Excerpt from “Summary of Presentation by Diane D’Arrigo, at Coping With Nuclear Waste, 27-29 April 2007, Stockholm, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Washington, D.C.http://nonuclear.se/darrigo20070427.html Sweden is also on the list of places to which EDF may send its radioactive waste for processing. Mamma Mia! Does EDF have it in for musicians?