11/9/2017 4:02:00 PM Fluor officials speak out against Jackson resident's claims
Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth representative Dr. J.D. Chiou (left) is pictured describing the pathways of water in the region, the history of the Teays River Valley, and the county’s source of groundwater in relation to the former gaseous diffusion plant in Piketon. Looking on are Administrative Assistant Marie Callahan and Commissioners Jerry Hall, Ed Armstrong and Paul Haller. (Telegram Photo By Phillip Buffington)
In recent weeks, comments have been made by officials from Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth and Jackson resident John Markley telling two very different stories regarding the proposed onsite waste disposal facility (OSWDF) at the former gaseous diffusion plant in Piketon.
Throughout, Fluor has maintained the site and the science behind it are sound and pose no threat to any of the surrounding areas, while Markley has stated a leak at the nuclear landfill is imminent, and will pose major risks to the surrounding communities, specifically with regard to the contamination of drinking water supplies.
During the Tuesday morning, Nov. 7 meeting of the Jackson County Commissioners, Fluor Portsmouth site director Dennis Carr, along with Dr. Jason Lovins and Dr. J.D. Chiou, wished to "step through" a number of the claims Markley had made in previous weeks.
"I guess what got me the most was the suggestion that [the Department of Energy] (DOE) and by inference Fluor and myself were somehow purposely misleading, and that just bothers me," Carr stated. "I find that insulting."
Carr said he went through each of the points Markley raised and compiled his own notes, which he provided to all present for Tuesday's meeting in a handout. This effort, he explained, was his "striving to be technically accurate." Carr said that is why he brought along Dr. Chiou, whom he described as "the most knowledgeable person" at the Piketon site from an environmental perspective.
The first topic addressed by Dr. Chiou was in reference to Markley's claims that the OSWDF will sit atop the Teays Valley Aquifer, which he said supplies the Jackson County Water Company with its drinking water. Dr. Chiou said this claim is outright false. He said a majority of the drinking water in the area is actually derived from the Scioto Buried Aquifer, and that Jackson County gets its water from that source, which is about eight miles northeast of Waverly and 16 miles northwest of Jackson. As all water in the area now flows south, Dr. Chiou said there is no possibility for any contamination.
As for the OSWDF sitting atop the Teays Valley Aquifer, Dr. Chiou said it will not, nor will it sit above the Scioto Buried Aquifer. He said the OSWDF will sit atop a hill about one mile northeast of the Teays Valley Aquifer and three miles west of the Scioto Buried Aquifer. The aquifer closest to the surface is the Berea Sandstone Aquifer. Fluor has stated the liners of the OSWDF will be about 70 to 120 feet above the historically high water level located in the Berea Sandstone Aquifer.
With regard to the OSWDF itself, Carr has explained the top of the facility will be a 15-foot thick sloped cap which is meant to shield against a 2,000-year storm event. Dr. Chiou explained such a storm event equates to eight or more inches of rain in a 24-hour period.
If water were ever able to infiltrate that cap, Carr said it would then have to make its way through three feet of large rock, two feet of compacted clay, a synthetic liner which is six feet thick, and a bentonite clay layer before reaching the waste. Below the waste, he continued, will be a redundant drainage system which is built to actively capture any water that makes its way inside and remove it from the facility for treatment, two more synthetic liner systems, two bentonite systems and three more feet of compacted clay.
At this point, Carr said if water were to make its way through all of those protections, it would then have to traverse 120 to 150 feet of unsaturated shale rock before reaching the Berea Aquifer below. Carr said officials also measured how long it would take water to make its way through the shale and found it would take in excess of 10,000 years.
To further this, Dr. Chiou said Tuesday that below all of those protections, there is 50 to 70 feet of "natural liner." He was referencing the shale rock, which he stated would make a pathway to groundwater an impossibility, hydraulically speaking.
Another topic addressed was in reference to the types of waste that will be placed in the OSWDF. Fluor officials again reiterated that the DOE has agreed to ship off 99.7 percent of all the radioactive inventory from the site, leaving mostly demolition debris and piping systems from buildings to be placed in the OSWDF. With regard to Markley's specific comment about fluorescent light ballasts which are "filled with PCBs," Carr explained that these ballasts are actually allowed to be disposed of in a municipal landfill, and was uncertain as to why he was questioning such an action.
Carr explained that the less than one percent of contaminated waste which will be placed in the OSWDF would equate to about "one truck load" which will be spread across the 1.4 million cubic yards of demolition debris inside the OSWDF.