PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Trucks rumble down Route 79 everyday, right past the orchards and country store at Soergel’s Farm.
Not one to pay them any heed, Randy Soergel now has reason for concern. Soon, some of them may be hauling weapons-grade nuclear waste.
“If there was an accident or anything like,” says Soergel. “Environmentally, it just makes you nervous.”
But the U.S. Department of Energy has approved the transport of spent uranium and other waste from a research laboratory in Canada to a disposal and reprocessing facility in South Carolina.
An estimated 150 truckloads of the liquid waste, contained in steel canisters, will be traversing 200 miles along Route 79 over the next two years.
This is an unprecedented shipment of liquid, high-level radioactive waste. That’s never happened in North American history,” said Kevin Kamps, the director of Beyond Nuclear.
The Beyond Nuclear organization and the Sierra Club have filed suit and are seeking for an immediate injunction to stop the shipments.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan spoke with Kamps via Skype, who says the liquid waste is more highly volatile than waste in solid form.
“That means, it’s that much closer to getting out into the environment in a crash, or a fire, or a deliberate attack in these truck shipments,” said Kamps. “That’s a big concern.”
In approving the shipments, the Department of Energy determined the waste to be safe, even in the event of an accident, but the feds have sponsored training sessions for first responders throughout the region.
But the environmentalists want the waste to be solidified and stored or disposed of in Canada. That has the full support of the shoppers KDKA spoke with at Soergel’s, who don’t want it coming through their hometowns.
“I see so many accidents on 79, every morning, coming home at night, so that would be a very dangerous situation indeed,” said Jen Blanker, of Mars.
“I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of effects we’d be exposing our growing children and people to. Of course, I’m not for it. Can’t they go somewhere else, where there’s less population?” added Maureen Pavlik, another local resident.
But if that injunction is not granted, trucks hauling nuclear waste could come barreling down 79 within a week, making those who live nearby uneasy.