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EPA makes it official: Shattuck waste will go

Release Date: 6/16/2000
Contact Information:
EPA 303-312-6725,

Release Date: 6/16/2000
Contact Information:
EPA 303-312-6807,

Release Date: 6/16/2000
Contact Information:
EPA 303-312-6600

      DENVER – The USEPA today finalized its decision concerning the waste at the Shattuck Superfund Site. In a public signing ceremony, EPA officials announced the Agency will move the radioactive waste to an off-site licensed disposal facility.

After many scientific studies, tests and community meetings, EPA determined that moving the waste is the only way to ensure long-term protection of public health. “I am here today to announce EPA’s decision to remove the waste at this site to a secure disposal facility,” said Tim Fields EPA’s Assistant Administrator of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “There are just too many uncertainties about whether the waste could present a public health risk in the long term.”

For years Overland neighborhood residents have insisted that the radioactive waste be removed from the defunct Shattuck Chemical site at 1805 S. Bannock Street; roughly four miles south of Downtown Denver. Shattuck processed radium, uranium, molybdenum, rhenium and other heavy meals from the early 1920s to 1984. EPA, in 1992, ordered the company to stabilize the low-level radioactive waste. This was accomplished in 1998 by mixing the radioactive soil with fly ash and concrete, and burying it under a clay cap and rocks.

At the time of the original order to bury the waste on-site, EPA and the State of Colorado were confident that the remedy was a cost-effective, protective solution to the contamination problem. The decision was and continues to be very unpopular. New studies showed the cap might eventually leak, potentially threatening groundwater and the nearby South Platte River. The studies, coupled with the continued opposition to the remedy, prompted EPA to change the original decision in favor of removing the buried waste. EPA will address contaminated groundwater near the site after further studies are completed.

Under EPA’s plan, more than 100,000 cubic yards of the radioactive concrete waste, measuring 17-feet high in some places on the six-acre parcel of land, will be shipped out of the city to a still to be determined licensed disposal site. EPA currently is evaluating alternative methods to remove the waste. Safety remains the paramount concern for EPA with dust and traffic being key issues.

Within the next few months, EPA will present the community its proposal detailing plans for excavating and removing the waste. While some site preparation work may begin this year, the actual removal work on the monolith is expected to begin during the 2001 construction season. EPA estimates the removal and cleanup will take 2-3 years to complete.

EPA’s Denver regional office will work with a community advisory group, consisting of community representatives, as it formulates plans to safely remove the material to a secure site. The Agency plans to hold an open house prior to embarking on construction to explain the process and answer any questions. EPA also will send members of the community regular updates on the removal/cleanup progress.

“This decision represents a major milestone. Let’s also use it as a transition from what has happened in the past to what will happen here in the future,” Fields noted. “I look forward to seeing a piece of land that is safe and ready to be redeveloped into new uses of which this community can be proud.”

EPA will shortly begin discussions with all parties, Shattuck Chemical Co., Citigroup and Phibro Resources, about liability for the site cleanup and waste removal. Those talks will not delay the removal of the waste.