Chem-Nuclear will run Barnwell landfill despite licensing dispute

COLUMBIA --- Chem-Nuclear Systems will continue to run the Barnwell low-level radioactive waste landfill, despite a recent court ruling that keeps its operating license in dispute.


"We are operating the site under timely renewal, which means that we submitted a renewal application by the required deadline," said Mark Walker, the spokesman for Utah-based EnergySolutions, the parent company of Chem-Nuclear. "We continue to operate the site in accordance with the existing license."

Last month, the S.C. Court of Appeals rejected a host of claims made in 2004 by the Sierra Club against the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control's decision in 2004 to renew Chem-Nuclear's license.

The environmental group argued the company's practices did not fully protect public health, safety and the environment from exposure to the waste stored at the landfill, particularly when its contents come in contact with water.

However, the court did send a portion of the group's concerns to the S.C. Administrative Law Court for review.

"The bottom line there is we'll be starting afresh in court, the Administrative Law Court, for those new issues that have been raised," said Shelly Wilson, representing the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, during the March meeting of the Governor's Nuclear Advisory Council. DHEC licenses and regulates the Barnwell site.

What happens to the Barnwell site if the Sierra Club's remaining charges are affirmed by the administrative court and Chem-Nuclear's license is reversed?

"To date, there has been no indication from (DHEC) that we have not met the requirements of the license," Walker said.

"In order to not renew the license, DHEC would have to find that we were in violation of the regulations or our license, but even then they are required to give the operator time to remedy the situation."

Chem-Nuclear has been the sole operator of the facility since 1971 and has had its license renewed seven times.