NFS is legally bound by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to limit negative radiological, chemical or other hazards to the environment, its workers or the public to “as low as reasonably achievable” (ALARA).
NFS is also one of the most highly regulated and inspected plant facilities in the world. Because of its important, strategic mission and because of its use of highly-enriched uranium, chemicals and gases, the company hosts one full-time NRC inspector at the plant on a daily basis. The independent government inspector reviews and oversees environmental and safety performance of workers and equipment.
NFS is also regulated by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other independent government entities whose mission is to observe, and if necessary, penalize companies who do not meet State or Federal laws involving the environment, worker safety and protection against harmful releases to the environment.
What about NFS groundwater contamination?
NFS has found that groundwater contamination does exist on its site and has identified that some migration of PCE off-site has occurred. None of the off-site impacts involve drinking water sources. Even though the NRC and EPA have agreed that the contamination does not pose a significant risk to the public or the environment, NFS is taking remedial action to address the problem.
Beginning in 2002, NFS began full-scale bio-remediation of its affected on-site groundwater. Initial tests found more than an 80 percent reduction in hazardous and a 60 percent reduction in some radioactive contaminants occurred through this full-scale effort. This treatment of the groundwater on the NFS plant site will also reduce groundwater contamination in off-site locations (to view a pictogram of the NFS treatment process, click here).
A Cold War legacy.
NFS began operations in 1957. NFS has always operated its facility according to the requirements of the time. More recent federal regulations, however, have required that environmental issues be addressed differently and clean up be performed proactively.
NFS has an exemplary record in this regard. Since the early 1990s, NFS has invested time and significant money in eliminating legacy waste from the Erwin plant. This includes: