Roxana landfill took radioactive waste without authority, document reveals
A Roxana landfill operated by Republic Services accepted radioactive material despite not having a license to do so, according to an inquiry by the Metro East Sun.
“Pursuant to the permit issued by Illinois EPA, Roxana Landfill is prohibited from accepting radioactive waste for disposal,” Kim Biggs, the Illinois EPA’s public information officer, told the Sun. “Illinois EPA is not aware of the facility accepting any radioactive waste.”
But the Sun has obtained a 2011 letter from the federal Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, part of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NCR), that indicates that several years ago, the landfill accepted radionuclides and other radioactive waste from a landfill and waste transfer site on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River.
“Recently, a landfill in Roxana, Illinois, has received a number of radioactive material contaminated waste shipments from waste transfer stations in Missouri, a non-Agreement State,” the letter read. “(Officials) asked NRC representatives if they could interact with the Missouri facilities, which are not licensees, to ensure that proper monitoring is performed prior to shipping waste to the landfill.”
The same letter indicated that the relevant personnel “contacted the waste transfer stations and received assurances that upgraded radiation monitoring systems were being installed which should help preclude shipments of contaminated waste to the landfill.”
Another document – from minutes of a meeting of the IEPA’s Environmental Justice Advisory Group in 2013 –indicated that nuclear dumping at the Roxana is prohibited. It also revealed a response to a citizen who was concerned about the landfill accepting radionuclides.
“Roxana Landfill is not permitted to accept radioactive waste,” the minutes read. “The landfill has a monitor on each scale that continuously monitors for radioactive nuclei. If sensors go off, they isolate the truck and call the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). The truck is only released after approval by IEMA. The landfill upgraded its sensors about a year ago to more sensitive monitors.”
IEMA and Republic Services did not return requests for comment.
Biggs, however, reiterated that the landfill does not have the capability of receiving nuclear waste. She acknowledged, however, that the Roxana landfill has been slapped with complaints of unsanctioned radioactive dumping.
“In the past, Illinois EPA received a complaint that Roxana accepted waste from Bridgeton Landfill that was suspected to be radioactive,” Biggs said. “Illinois EPA investigated that complaint, and the waste was determined to be non-radioactive.”