What are the potential environmental impacts from continued storage of depleted uranium hexafluoride?
In addition to human health and safety consequences, the PEIS evaluated the potential consequences of various depleted uranium management strategies on air quality, water and soil quality, socioeconomics (that is, economic and social conditions), ecology, waste management, resource requirements, and land use. Continued storage of the UF6 would require extending the use of a total of about 100 acres of land currently used to store the cylinders. For continued storage, adverse impacts were identified for air and groundwater quality, if worst-case conditions were assumed (i.e., that cylinder maintenance and painting activities would not reduce cylinder corrosion rates). Under these conditions, it is possible that cylinder breaches could result in HF air concentrations greater than the regulatory standard level at the ETTP storage site around the year 2020; HF concentrations at the Paducah and Portsmouth sites were estimated to remain within applicable standards or guidelines. Additionally, uranium concentrations in groundwater could exceed the 20 µg/L guideline level at all three sites at some time in the future (earliest about the year 2100 at the Paducah site). However, if continued cylinder maintenance and painting are effective in controlling corrosion, as expected, air and groundwater concentrations of pollutants related to continued storage would be kept within regulatory standards at all storage sites.
No other adverse impacts were identified for the areas evaluated. Socioeconomic impacts are evaluated in terms of jobs and income generated, which are considered positive impacts. Continued storage was estimated to result in 140 direct jobs and generation of $6 million in direct income per operational year at all three of the storage sites combined.
(For more details on the environmental risks from continued storage, see also Section 2.4 and Appendix D of the PEIS.)
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