CLINTON, Tenn. (WATE) — A decades-long project in Anderson County is gaining traction. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) recently made a commitment to county leaders to clean up the former American Nuclear Corporation site.
The property looks lush, but soon crews will be digging and taking more samples of the soil.
“Some of the reports I’ve read, and I’m no engineer, but I recall we have some cesium and some cobalt present which to me is some pretty serious stuff,” Anderson County Councilman Tracy Wandell said.
Cesium and cobalt are both radioactive materials and large exposure to the waste can be harmful.
“Everything is within the state guidelines, however, we have some other issues there. We don’t know what’s going on inside the old building. We don’t know what may be in or around the facility. We just don’t know that information,” Wandell said.
Currently, the property off Blockhouse Valley Road is inaccessible to the public. Discussions about how to clean up the land began in 2008, according to Wandell.
In 1998, WATE met with those living around the old American Nuclear site who claimed the contaminated materials spoiled their drinking water.
“American Nuclear was started in the ’60s and it was started with the idea of trying to develop some nuclear waste, I call it, some isotopes from the [Department of Energy] facilities to a local, new startup company in our district, and unfortunately, it had some issues,” Wandell said.
During the company’s brief existence, it was cited repeatedly for not following state and federal rules for handling radioactive materials. TDEC took ownership of the American Nuclear property in 1980. Now under Governor Bill Lee’s approval, $22 million is set aside to clean up areas like the old American Nuclear site.
“He earmarked that, those funds for TDEC to do those cleanup activities and my understanding is American Nuclear is at the top of that list at this moment,” Wandell said.
The councilman added the land should qualify as a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act site. Under the Act, the clean-up efforts could possibly receive federal funding.