The Morehead News

Local News

November 6, 2012

Maxey Flats nuclear site being readied for final capping

Nov. 6, 2012 — The Maxey Flats Project (MFP), a low-level nuclear waste site near Hillsboro in Fleming County, has made substantial progress in becoming less hazardous to humans, according to State Rep. Mike Denham.

Denham represents House District 70, which includes Fleming, Mason and Bracken counties. He visited the facilities Thursday for an open house where MFP employees explained the work they do and offered educational information about radiation.

The MFP was placed on the National Priorities List in 1986 because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined soil, surface water and ground water were contaminated as a result of facility operations.

From 1963 to1977, Maxey Flats accepted 4.7 million cubic feet of radioactive waste and nearly 267 tons of source material.

The first steps toward remediation were taken between 1987 and 1991. The entire trench area has been covered with “capped material” since 1995.

“I just can’t get over how nice you have this place looking,” Denham told Scott Wilburn, MFP manager. “I want to thank you for the job you’re doing.”

The “capped material” is a geomembrane liner.

Tom Stewart, environmental technologist, walks the liner daily as part of his routine duties. He searches for leaks and punctures, and if he finds them, he and a crew follow extensive procedures to patch any holes.

He is not worried. MFP employees are trained to avoid radiation by shielding themselves and using time and distance.

“Mostly what we do is time and distance,” Stewart said, “because it’s almost impossible to restrict yourself from it. Where we’re in this restricted area, it’s just coming up out of the ground out of a place where we’re doing our work.”

When he’s finished, he and the rest of the crew scan themselves to make sure they don’t bring contamination out of the restricted area.

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