TN N-waste dump: ‘We were lied to’ rallying cry

‘We were lied to’ rallying cry on The Murfreesboro Post

‘We were lied to’ rallying cry
By Michelle Willard, Post staff writer – July 17, 2007. 9:15 PM

“We were lied to,” was the rallying cry at Tuesday night’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee meeting in Murfreesboro.

More than 200 concerned Rutherford County citizens attended the meeting, where public comment was taken concerning the low-level radioactive waste dumped at Middle Point landfill.

“The public has lost trust with 20 years of dumping and not being told about it,” State Sen. Jim Tracy said.

The General Assembly passed legislation last month that placed a moratorium on the program at Middle Point and requested a study of its possible impact. The State Solid Waste Advisory Committee was charged with conducting the study and making recommendations.

Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation finally provided information regarding the Bulk Survey for Release (BSFR) program and risks of exposure to low-level radioactive waste to the gathered public.

The public was not assured by the belated effort.

The secrecy surrounding BSFR and Middle Point were foremost in comments presented at the meeting.

Grant Kelley, a member of the Regional Solid Waste Advisory Committee overseeing Rutherford and adjacent counties, summed it up best.

“We have had numerous meetings in every county where we’ve asked about hazardous and nuclear waste. Never did anyone say that it was coming in. Somebody lied to us,” Kelley said. “They obviously lied to our questions.”

With the secrecy surrounding the program, those who spoke at the meeting were mistrustful of any information given by TDEC.

“This is something that is affecting all of Rutherford County,” said Gwen Hallquist, environmental chemist and member of Citizens to End Nuclear Dumping in Tennessee (ENDIT).

“I don’t know and neither do they. No one knows what level (of radiation exposure) is safe,” Hallquist said.

Other comments concerned what exactly is Middle Point accepting under this program and where is it coming from? If it’s so safe why don’t other states keep it, instead of sending it to Tennessee?

Anita Tittsworth, who described herself as a concerned grandmother, was concerned with the growth of Rutherford County and the effect of radiation on MTSU’s student population.

“Most of us are here because we don’t trust government regulation or big business,” she explained.

Her observation proved true in a majority of the comments with very few in support of the program.

Most pleaded with the committee to use “common sense” and end the program.

Others stated more practical concerns, like what happens when a truck carrying low-level radioactive waste crashes in Rutherford County and how safe is the Stones River, which runs next to the landfill and supplies most of Rutherford County’s water.

The committee didn’t respond to any questions posed. However, they will consider the public’s grievances while making recommendations on the program.

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