A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 December 5, 1991

LOUISIANA: ROLLINS HAZARDOUS WASTE INCINERATOR IN BATON ROUGE HAS BURNED RADIOACTIVE WASTES SINCE 1983. “...The Energy Department has admitted that of nearly 4 million pounds of waste it shipped to Rollins from 11 nuclear weapons sites since 1983, about 1.1 million pounds was contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive materials, including enriched uranium. The state Department of Environmental Quality in August fined Rollins $10,000 in connection with its handling of those and other radioactive materials. A DEQ inspection of the incinerator and other areas at Rollins found no unusual levels of radioactivity....Willie Fontenot, an environmental specialist in the state attorney general’s office, said the report failed to explain how much radiation was assumed to be in the waste, and how the department determined that radiation level. Fontenot charged that the radiation dose report is fraught with ‘doublespeak’ and ‘obfuscation.’ Rollins environmental affairs manager Mike Higgs said he was confident of the study’s findings. ‘I believe at this point it’s a good study,’ he said. ‘We’re still, of course, looking into it. The summary on the dose calculation indicated there was no health risk whatever,’ he said...Nuclear weapons plant officials believe about 800,000 pounds of waste shipped to Rollins from five plants operated by Martin Marietta Energy Systems Inc. are ‘suspect’ because of an absence of data on radioactivity in that waste, according to the documents. The 800,000 pounds represent about one-fourth of the 3.4 millions pounds shipped to Rollins from the facilities operated by Martin Marietta. They include three plants at the government’s Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee and two uranium enrichment plants in Kentucky and Ohio. The documents do appear to confirm at least that testing was done on about 250,000 pounds of waste from Oak Ridge, or nearly 10 percent of the 2.8 million pounds of the waste the three plants at Oak Ridge shipped to Rollins, according to Energy Department records. At Oak Ridge’s K-25 plant, the documents say, laboratory data ‘is not available for all 93,000 pounds of waste that plant shipped to Rollins. In addition, the Energy Department calculated the doses to the public and workers without having specific information on radioactivity in 475,000 pounds of waste sent to Rollins from a sixth weapons facility located in South Carolina, the documents say. The documents explain that officials routinely did not check some wastes for radioactivity because they knew which types of waste were likely to be produced by certain processes or equipment. This method, called process knowledge, also allowed officials to test for only a single radioactive material, the documents say. At Oak Ridge’s super-secret Y-12 bomb plant, the documents show officials tested waste only for uranium because they expected only uranium to be in the waste. However, that narrow testing procedure left a breach in protection according to Arjun Makhijani, director of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Takoma Park, Md. Laboratory documents show that an undetermined quantity of the waste shipped from Y-12 to Rollins contained cobalt, strontium and yttrium, elements that can be radioactive or non-radioactive, depending on the form in which they occur...” Sunday Advocate, Baton Rouge, LA, 12-1-91, page B-1.

Mobile hazardous waste PCB incinerator: Report on 14 incinerator workers exposed to high levels of dioxins and furans at Goose Bay, Labrador. Incinerator operated by OHM of Findlay, Ohio. Waste Not has received a copy of a report prepared for the Canadian Dept. of National Defence on the serious accident that exposed workers at the OHM mobile hazardous waste incinerator site with dioxins and furans on 2-1-90. OHM’s Canadian subsidiary, OH Materials of Canada Ltd. was the contractor carrying out the PCB destruction operations to dispose of 3,500 tonnes of PCB contaminated material at a site within the Canadian Forces Base near the old hospital in Goose Bay. OHM was awarded the contract in August 1989 and transported stockpiled waste from Saglek and Cartwright to Goose Bay. The report was prepared by Proctor & Redfern of Don Mills, Ontario. Potential exposure of 14 workers to dioxin and furans “show a range of results all exceeding a proposed Occupational Exposure Limit of 0.2 ug/m3 by a significant factor, and estimated potential uptake up to 17 times the guideline for maximum daily uptake...The incinerator operations at Goose Bay were protected from the elements by a relocatable plastic membrane building structure (the dome). In the conditions which existed February 1, this enclosure served to inhibit movement of PCBs by airborne transport until they could be drawn by the process fans through the incinerator scrubber.” The main induced draft [ID] fan tripped out and the emergency by-pass damper failed to open. “Smoke was clearly visible, escaping from the sides of the primary chamber.” On February 1, the incinerator was processing material with an average PCB concentration of 3,870 ppm at a rate of 10,000 lbs per hour. The three alarms sounded previous to the unit going positive, in reverse chronological order, were: * high pressure in primary chamber; * high pH; * low scrubber water. None of these alarms forecasted the shut-down of the main ID fan. At the time immediately preceding the incident, the control board indicated that the unit was in normal running order.

1990 Burn Chronology:
January 18: First PCB feed. Non-regulatory stack test conducted.
January 19: First regulatory stack test conducted.
January 20: Second regulatory stack test conducted.
January 21: Third regulatory stack test conducted.
January 22: Feed interrupted to shorten belt in primary unit.
January 24: Feed interrupted because secondary burner malfunctions due to plugged pilots.
January 24: Feed interrupted because motor burns out in ash conveyor.
January 24: (approximate date): Interruption due to power outage not reported in site logs.
January 25: Feed interrupted because secondary burner extinguishes.
January 25: Leak in scrubber to clarifier pipe.
January 26: Process material changed from soil to contaminated wood pallets and wood debris.
January 26: Feed interrupted because quench ash conveyor became January 27: Fire in feed area, feed interrupted.
January 28: Neoprene belt fails, feed interrupted.
January 28: Process material changed from wood chips to soil.
January 29: Feed interrupted because primary belt jams and requires shortening.
January 30: Low temperature in secondary.
January 31: Feed interrupted several times due to extinguished burner in secondary and jamming of feed screw in hopper.
February 1: 14 workers exposed to dioxin and furan emissions. “The on-site wind recorder was not functioning at the time of the incident...Air monitoring equipment was not operating at the time
of the incident because they were in the process of being dismantled and having a routine change of filters...Occupational Health and Safety monitoring was not being undertaken in the work area due to the perception that this was considered a ‘clean’ working environment.”

“The PCB release was the consequence of a series of events initiated when the 480 volt, three-phase electrical drive motor powering the main ID [induced draft] fan suddenly tripped out. While there is no independent evidence to support the supposition, it has been suggested that the motor tripped out due to a very brief, possibly one cycle only, failure in one phase of the power supply. If no evidence to the contrary arises, this supposition appears to be the most probable explanation for the trip-out of the main ID fan motor. It is, however, less than satisfactory in relation to concerns for future reliability in that if another undetected internal cause exists, it could possibly initiate future trip-outs...Had there been no subsequent failure in the emergency ID fan system, the trip-out would have caused no substantial problem. However, a failure in the damper actuator on the emergency system occurred which resulted in the release of smoke, fumes and water vapour...A shock absorbing snubber on the actuator output shaft prevents slamming of the damper blade by limiting the rate of shaft rotation...The cause of this failure of the actuator to operate was found upon examination by OHM in Findlay, Ohio, to be due to plugging of an orifice in the snubber...OHM reported that the oil, which should have been clean in appearance, was dirty and that some of this dirt had plugged an orifice and prevented the opening action of the damper. The reason for the presence of the dirt in the oil has not been established but might very well be due to the use of a chemically inappropriate oil which attacked the material of the O-ring seals....” Joe Young of the Proctor & Redfern Group from Ontario was working at the Goose Bay incinerator at the time of the 2-1-90 accident. Copies of this report, PCB release study. Report of the DND study team. PCB release at Goose Bay, Labrador on 01 February 1990, approx. 200 pages, are available from Waste Not for $17.

WASTE NOT # 176 A publication of Work on Waste USA, published 48 times a year. Annual rates are: Groups & Non-Profits $50; Students & Seniors $35; Individual $40; Consultants & For-Profits $125; Canadian $US45; Overseas $65. Editors: Ellen & Paul Connett, 82 Judson Street, Canton, NY 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.