Nuclear Regulation

Cleanup Delays Continue at Two Radioactive Waste Sites in Ohio Gao ID: RCED-93-156 June 28, 1993

Two sites in Newburgh Heights, Ohio, are contaminated with low-level radioactive material used during the Chemetron Corporation's chemical manufacturing. Although the company ceased operations more than 20 years ago, it has yet to clean up the sites and still holds a license to possess nuclear materials. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will not cancel Chemetron's license until the company properly disposes of radioactive material and has spearheaded recent efforts to clean up the sites. This report reviews Chemetron's efforts to clean up the two sites, discusses factors that led to the failure of past cleanups, and addresses problems that Chemetron faces with its current cleanup proposal.

GAO found that: (1) the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) did not have a management strategy to address cleanup problems at radioactive waste sites until 1990; (2) the Site Decommissioning Management Plan was developed to provide a comprehensive strategy for cleaning up contaminated material in a timely manner; (3) in September 1985, the licensee reported that the Ohio sites met NRC cleanup criteria, but NRC surveys showed that the waste remaining did not meet its standards; (4) disputes over who owned the contaminated property contributed to early cleanup failures; and (5) current cleanup efforts are being complicated by state requirements and citizen concerns.

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