Energy Dept. Ends Cleanup at Quarry at Weldon Spring Says Work Eliminates Water Threat

By Tom Uhlenbrock Of the Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), November 2, 1995 | Go to article overview

Energy Dept. Ends Cleanup at Quarry at Weldon Spring Says Work Eliminates Water Threat


Tom Uhlenbrock Of the Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


The Energy Department says the removal of radioactive waste dumped in a quarry near the old Weldon Spring plant eliminates a threat to public drinking water in St. Charles County.

The completion of the work at the quarry - at a cost of nearly $30 million - also marks the end of one of the most controversial steps in the cleanup of the uranium-processing plant.

Steve McCracken, manager of the project, said contamination from the quarry had been leaching into ground water but had not yet reached the St. Charles County well field less than a mile away.

"The most important thing that we are doing is eliminating the threat to the county's water," he said.

Some 34 million gallons of contaminated water were removed from the quarry to get to the waste. The water was treated and released into the Missouri River.

"The water-treatment plant has worked better than well - and still been the most controversial thing we've done," McCracken said. "Because we discharged into the river, it had the potential to impact people downstream."

The treatment plant reduced radioactivity in the released water to levels below what is commonly found in river water, he said.

The department regularly tested the water before release, as did four other agencies. In addition, two Canadian chemists were hired as independent consultants and took samples. None of the test results challenged the Energy Department's conclusion that the treated quarry water was safe.

Kay Drey of the Coalition for the Environment, which helped arrange the testing by the Canadians, noted that the completion of the quarry cleanup does not end the release of treated water into the river. …

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