- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

VANDERGRIFT, Pa. (AP) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is sticking with a $350 million plan to dig up and haul away nuclear waste from a dump site about 25 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

The federal agency halted the cleanup - which was originally estimated to cost $44.5 million - after unexpected amounts of complex materials, including uranium and plutonium, were discovered at the Parks Township site in 2011.

The site was once owned by Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corp., which operated fuel plants for nuclear submarines in Parks and nearby Apollo. NUMEC owned the dump site from 1957 until the 1980s, but BWX Technology, formerly known as Babcock & Wilcox Co., most recently owned the land.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (https://bit.ly/1mgqP20 ) reported that the agency announced Tuesday it would remove 36,000 tons of radioactive waste from the site.

Mike Helbling, Army Corps of Engineers project manager in Pittsburgh, said the decision will allow the agency to move forward with a remedy that protects both people and the environment. He said the plan is also economically justified.

BWX and former owner Atlantic Richfield Co. must pay for the cleanup. They had argued that the agency didn’t properly consider other options, including keeping the nuclear waste on site.

“The most important thing is to get the job done safely for the people in the community and for the government to recover the money for the project,” Helbling said. “You and I should not be paying for it.”

A BWX spokesman says the company would not comment on the decision.

The corps is planning to solicit a contractor to perform the work. It hopes to name a new contractor in 2017 that will create new plans and hopes to resume digging in 2018. The project is expected to be completed between 2026 and 2028.

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Information from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, https://pghtrib.com


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