“We are now working through the highly complex details of implementing our decision and the associated legal steps.
Once the plan is finalized, we are committed to providing this information to the public,” a mid-December press release said.
The landfill fire, first detected in 2010, underscores a systematic failure by the US nuclear weapons program, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency to correct this transgression.
If these wastes were sitting on the Energy Department's Hanford site in Washington state—which is also close to significant numbers of people and a major drinking water supply—their removal, isolation, and disposal would be high priorities.
Thorium 230 concentrations were found to be some 25,000 times greater than its natural isotopic abundance.
Over a half-life of 77,500 years, thorium 230 decays to radium-226 and undergoes a substantial “in-growth” of alpha radioactivity.
But unlike Hanford, where there is an enforceable environmental compliance agreement with the Energy Department, the West Lake problem was allowed to slip, by default, through the bureaucratic cracks, contaminating the environment for decades while the government did little or nothing.
About 70 percent of the uranium acquired by the Manhattan Project came from the Shinklobwe mine.
Louis airport, where it sat exposed to the elements for nearly two decades.
By the late 1950’s, a mountainous pile containing 133,000 tons of radioactive wastes had accumulated.
The wastes sent to West Lake have most of the uranium removed from them, but they include concentrated radioactive decay products, some of which are tens of thousands of times more radioactive than the parent uranium.
Because they are so highly radioactive, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found that the West Lake landfill holds the “worst” of the Mallinckrodt wastes.