Panel affirms DEQ disposal standard for low-activity radioactive waste

Feb. 13, 2015

For More Information:
Brad Wurfel, 517-284-6713, wurfelb@michigan.gov  
Ken Yale, 517-930-5784, yalek@michigan.gov  

A panel of radiation and health experts today confirmed the DEQ’s disposal guidelines for low-activity radioactive materials.

Gov. Rick Snyder directed the DEQ in August 2014 to assemble a panel to provide a technical review of Michigan’s disposal guidelines for Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials, or TENORM, to ensure protection of public health and the environment. Established in 1996, Michigan’s standard of 50 picoCuries per gram (pCi/g) of Radium-226 was reaffirmed in 1999 by a U.S. Department of Energy study.

In addition to confirming Michigan’s 50 pCi/g disposal guideline for all landfills, the TENORM Disposal Advisory Panel also suggested hazardous waste landfills may have adequate protections to allow for higher concentrations.

Other recommendations included requiring landfills to place TENORM waste at least 10 feet below the bottom of the landfill cap, restricting the annual total volume of TENORM waste received at landfills to minimize worker exposure, requiring landfills to monitor leachate and groundwater for Radium-226, and developing regulatory guidelines for the safe handling of TENORM contaminated with Lead-210.

The TENORM Disposal Advisory Panel investigated current federal and state standards, changes to risk methodology since the 1990s, the nature of how TENORM decays over time, methods of modeling dose assessments to workers and the public, and the design and operation of landfills.

Appointees to the TENORM Disposal Advisory Panel were:

• Duane DeMore, Chesapeake Nuclear Services, Novi, representing the Health Physics Society
• Cheryl Culver Schultz, Medical Nuclear Physicist, Beaumont Health Systems, Royal Oak, representing the medical community
• Kimberlee Kearfott, Professor of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, representing academia
• Nicholas Occhipinti, West Michigan Environmental Action Council, Grand Rapids, representing the Michigan Environmental Council
• Donald J. Carpenter, ARCADIS, Inc., Brighton, representing the environmental consultant community
• Joseph J. Weismann, US Ecology, Inc., Boise, ID, representing the waste disposal industry
• Bill Myler, Jr., Muskegon Development Company, representing the oil and gas industry
• Ken Yale, DEQ’s Radiological Protection Section Chief, representing the DEQ
• Dave Minnaar, Middleville, representing the public

The report is available online at www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/deq-RMG-TENORM_Disposal_Advisory_Panel_White_Paper_-_FINAL_481404_7.pdf.

The DEQ today announced a 30-day public comment period for this report. Comments can be submitted by email to DEQ-TENORMPublicComments@michigan.gov, or by mail to 525 W. Allegan St., Lansing, MI, 48933.