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Environmental Justice and Community Partnerships

Regional Programs: Memphis, Tennessee

STOP Burying So-Called Low-Level Nuclear
Waste in Two Local Landfills: There is NO Safe Dose!

Many of us are concerned about our country’s focus on the nuclear power industry as an energy alternative.  We are concerned about failing efforts to safely dispose of nuclear waste as well as other concerns. Our country and our State of Tennessee must look at the impacts confronting our communities with particular concern for those communities and families that are the most vulnerable.  When folks say nuclear power is clean, they obviously have not looked at all the problems and concerns associated with the production of nuclear power plants and weapons. Whether you look at the devastated areas out West where uranium mining occurs, or here in Tennessee where the waste is processed and disposed of in landfills, the topic of “nuclear” is not necessarily good news.

In the United States today, more than 161 million people reside within 75 miles of temporarily stored nuclear waste, according to the Department of Energy.  Managing this waste is a major ethical issue that should force all of us to rethink how we manage our waste and look again at what we allow our people to be exposed to.  The TN Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC) considers low level waste going into landfills to be below their level of concern.  

Our efforts to inform the local community of low-level nuclear or radioactive waste being regularly put into our North Shelby and South Shelby landfills were amplified at a Public Forum held on January 24, 2012.  Over 160 citizen letters convinced County Mayor Mark Luttrell and the County Commission to host a forum and bring in the State Division of Radiological Health to answer concerns and questions from the public.  There was an overflow crowd of residents that were shocked and appalled that this was going on and there was never a public hearing. The program or system TDEC uses to dispose of low-level nuclear waste in landfills seems to have been a 'secretive practice' here in Shelby County because practically no one, including elected officials knew of this practice prior to the public forum.  Even though landfills are permitted to accept this waste in Tennessee, and the practice has been going on for approximately six years, we are still very concerned about this waste being intermingled with household garbage and buried.  The threat of damage to the Memphis Sands aquifer that supplies our drinking water is of major concern to all in this area.  Email: rita.harris@sierraclub.org or call 901-324-7757 for more information  about how to get connected to others fighting this issue.

Please browse the following links to further research this issue and join us in our efforts to get this type waste out of Shelby County.

Nuclear Information Resource Service - www.nirs.org

Informational Fact Sheets - http://www.nirs.org/factsheets/fctsht.htm

Publication - "Out of Control - On Purpose"
http://www.nirs.org/radwaste/outofcontrol/outofcontrolreport.pdf

"No Safe Dose" - Fact Sheet
http://www.nirs.org/factsheets/nosafedose.pdf

"Low Level from Commercial Sources" - Fact Sheet

"Low-Level not Low Risk" - Fact Sheet - http://www.nirs.org/factsheets/llwnolowrisk.pdf

New NIRS Briefing Paper: Nuclear Energy is Dirty Energy (and does not fit into a “clean energy standard”).PDF If the radiation released routinely from nuclear reactors were the color and texture of oil, no one would ever again confuse nuclear power with "clean." January 25, 2011.
http://www.nirs.org/factsheets/nuclearenergyisdirtyenergy.pdf


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