Radioactive Waste Education Project

Tennessee Environmental Council wants Tennesseans to be aware of radioactive waste processing, transport and disposal issues in our state.  It is important that our citizens be informed, engaged and actively participating in the Department of Energy’s Environmental Management in Tennessee.


Click here for more details and to see the national map of transport routes

Click here to read our press release about this pressing issue.


Oak Ridge, TN

Oak Ridge still continues to be a nationally recognized hotspot for radioactive and toxic contamination from poor past practices. However, the Department of Energy (DOE) has been working for several years on remediation of the Oak Ridge Reservation.  The clean-up process will continue for decades due to the difficulty of remediation, cost, and unforseen circumstances.   

  • There are three major players in the environmental clean-up on the Reservation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation-Oversight (TDEC-O), and the Department of Energy- Environmental Management (DOE-EM) are all part of a Federal Facilities Agreement, which prioritizes cleanup activities, assigns agency roles, and establish procedures for document review and interaction among agency officials. (Federal Facilities Agreement Oak Ridge)
  • Soil and groundwater contamination are still ongoing problems on the Reservation, but are not a high priority at the moment. This is due to the fact the Department of Energy can restrict access and development on all the impacted area. It will also be a very expensive task to completely clean up the soil and groundwater contamination (Knoxnews).
  • There has been a strong focus on decontamination and demolition of buildings over cleaning up environmental media (like soil and groundwater). Part of the justification for this is to reduce the security costs associated with protecting contaminated buildings and classified materials still contained within many buildings. Removing the contents and buildings themselves will reduce security costs, which, for example, were $30 million for the East Tennessee Technology Park alone. (Knoxnews)
  • The only independent oversight group, the Local Oversight Committee (LOC), which represented local county governments, was dissolved by the mayors. There is now no group independent of DOE to question and make recommendations to DOE and the local governments. A new replacement group called the Tennessee Oversight Interlocal Agreement Board of Mayors/Executives convened in February 2012 to pick up the work of the LOC. (TN Oversight Interlocal Agreement Board)
  • The Site Specific Advisory Board (SSAB) is an appointed board that provides feedback and recommendations on issues presented to them by DOE, and can address some questions from the public. The SSAB is located at the DOE Information Center. (SSAB)(DOE Information Center)

To learn more, contact: 865-241-4780 or e-mail [email protected].

Radioactive Waste in Tennessee
Most Tennesseans think of Oak Ridge when radioactive issues are mentioned, but Tennessee is actually a major player when it comes to disposing of radioactive waste, with processors across the state:

  • Up to 75% of all low level radioactive waste produced in the nation ends up in Tennessee for processing.
  • In 2010, fifty-million pounds of low level radioactive waste was processed in Tennessee.
  • Under Tennessee law, low level radioactive waste may be put into municipal landfills. These landfills are not designed for radioactive material.

Helpful Links & Resources

Oak Ridge Reservation Annual Site Environmental Report
Federal Facilities Agreement Oak Ridge
TDEC Department of Energy Oversight Division
The Oak Ridge National Security Complex: Human Health and the Environment as Casualties of Hot and Cold Wars 
Final Report of The Federal Facilities Environmental Restoration Dialogue Committee
Releases of Contaminants from Oak Ridge Facilities and Risks to Public Health
DOE Oak Ridge Office
DOE Public Involvement News Letters
Dept of Energy-Environmental Management Oak Ridge Budget FY2017
Department Of Energy FY2012 Congressional Budget Request
The Advocate Newsletter
Find your Tennessee State Representatives
Council Articles and Information on Nuclear Issues in Tennessee

The Council advances this clean energy opportunity in Tennessee