January 21, 2020

Radioactive waste dumped in Wiscasset 10 years ago> Inspector says low level

WISCASSET — Low-level radioactive waste was dumped in a Wiscasset landfill a decade ago, a revelation that disturbed the nuclear power plant’s new president.

Pat Dostie, the state’s nuclear safety inspector, said the waste with extremely low levels of radioactivity did not pose a threat to public safety. The landfill has since been closed.

“I know you mention radiation here and people get scared, but you’re talking very small amounts,” Dostie said.

Nevertheless, Maine Yankee President Michael Meisner said he was concerned that any radioactive waste was put in the landfill.

“The assertion you made is fairly serious,” he told Dostie. “Something should have been said [at the time]. We will check it out.”

Mostly loose paper and other office materials were dumped in the landfill in 1987, Dostie said Thursday during a meeting of the panel overseeing decommissioning of Maine Yankee, which was shut down last August.

He said that, during his tenure as the state’s radiation control specialist at Maine Yankee, the plant switched from the time-consuming process of hand-sorting each piece of trash.

Instead, the plant began using a waste monitor, Dostie said. Bags that registered below a certain level were dumped at the landfill.

After Dostie learned about the trash bags, he raised concerns with management, and the practice was stopped.

The amount of radioactive cobalt 50 and cesium buried in the dump is a hundred times less than is found in a smoke alarm, said Uldis Vanags, the state nuclear safety adviser.

Maine Yankee spokeswoman Maureen Brown said the plant has not found any information to confirm that the dumping took place.

“We’re going to thoroughly review the matter, looking through records, and if we should find that there is any credible evidence that Maine Yankee shipped contaminated material to the Wiscasset landfill, we will take appropriate steps,” she said.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

comments for this post are closed

You may also like