Ten thousand barrels of radium-contaminated soil will be shipped this summer from New Jersey to a disposal site in western Utah.
James Staples, spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said the waste will be shipped over a three-month period beginning in June.This is part of a multimillion-dollar cleanup of mildly radioactive dirt which was used as fill material during construction of a New Jersey subdivision.
The contaminated dirt is packed in 55-gallon drums that will be moved to Utah by truck. They will be placed at the Envirocare of Utah disposal site in Tooele County, said Kosrow Semnani, president of Envirocare.
The Envirocare facility encircles the site at which Salt Lake County's radioactive Vitro uranium mill tailings are buried. The New Jersey soil is substantially less radioactive than the Vitro tailings.
Semnani said the New Jersey wastes will be left in the barrels when placed in the disposal cell. The barrels will then be flattened to assure compaction of the material.
He expects the facility to receive an average of 14 truck loads each week for about three months. Each truck carries about 60 drums.
"We don't anticipate any danger from this material," he said.
Larry Anderson, director of the Utah Bureau of Radiation Control, said the New Jersey soil is the type of material Envirocare is licensed to receive.
"This is extremely low-level stuff," he said. "There are no environmental problems, and it doesn't represent a problem of major magnitude if there's an accident. All you have to do is scoop it up with a front-end loader, then get a dustpan and broom and sweep up what little is left."
Staples said the contaminated soil was produced at a radium extraction plant that operated in Orange, N.J., in the early 1900s. The vast majority of the contaminated soil remains at the plant site.