Fire Fight 

A company on Presidents Island plans to install a radioactive waste incinerator. A local environmental group is trying to stop them.

Burn Out: Radioactive material has been stored on Presidents Island for years, but if all goes as planned for the Radiological Assistance Consulting and Engineering (R.A.C.E.) facility at 2550 Channel Avenue, it'll soon be burned there too. The company has received a permit from the health department to install a low-level radioactive waste incinerator, but it has yet to get an operating permit from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).

The incinerator would burn carcasses of research animals, lubricants and liquids from nuclear power plants, byproducts from industrial facilities, and scraps of wood and plastic contaminated with radiation. The materials would be destroyed, but radioactive ash would be left behind.

"This is a state-of-the-art incinerator, and almost nothing escapes into the air. It's not like the old incinerators," says Billy Freeman from TDEC's Inspection Enforcement Division of Radiological Health.

Calls to R.A.C.E. were not returned by press time.

Watch your Waste: Although the installation permit was issued in February 2003, a local environmental group recently learned about the incinerator and is now trying to prevent the facility from operating it.

The Riverview Collaborative Community Association, along with members of the Sierra Club and state representative Barbara Cooper (D-Memphis), recently held its first R.A.C.E.-related meeting to discuss ways to fight the facility. TDEC employees were present to field questions about 13 violations issued to the company during a September inspection.

"[The violations] demonstrate to me that they don't need to enlarge their operations with an incinerator that will be burning radioactive material," says Rita Harris, a member of the Riverview Collaborative and the Sierra Club.

Freeman says that the violations, most of which involve labeling or storage issues, were minor and did not pose any health or safety risk to the community. TDEC is currently working with the company on a weekly basis to help clear up these issues.

Riverview is now exploring legal action against R.A.C.E. Harris says the situation is an environmental-justice issue and a safety threat to nearby food-processing plants.

"The Riverview, Boxtown, and French Fort communities closest to Presidents Island are historically African-American neighborhoods," says Harris. "The fact that this community is already overburdened with polluting facilities should raise a red flag with TDEC and Memphis & Shelby County Pollution Control."

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
    • Creative Process

      Memphis Brooks Museum of Art leader talks about the decision to consider leaving Overton Park.

Blogs

News Blog

Bike Share Program Seeks Director

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Music Video Monday: Namazu

From My Seat

No Fun League (2017)

Tiger Blue

Tigers 44, Southern Illinois 31

Beyond the Arc

Grizzlies trade Troy Daniels to Phoenix

Music Blog

Listen Up: Louise Page

News Blog

Suit Targets 'Destructive' Drivers License Policy

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Bianca Phillips

Readers also liked…

ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation