CLINTON – The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has committed to cleaning up the former site of the American Nuclear Corporation in South Clinton.
TDEC Deputy Commissioner Greg Young and Director of Remediation Steve Sanders announced the State’s commitment to the project during a workshop last week with members of the Anderson County Commission and County Mayor Terry Frank. Representatives from Congressman Chuck Fleischmann’s office also attended.
TDEC is a regulatory partner with the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Following their review of the ANC timeline and a site visit on September 3, 2021, TDEC reached out to EPA. There was some delay following the site visit, as legal clarification was needed. However, once that occurred, officials from the EPA were on the ground performing initial screening at the American Nuclear site – located off Blockhouse Valley Road in South Clinton – for approximately 3-and-a-half days during the week of September 12, 2022; they arrived Monday and left Thursday. The EPA will conduct sampling across the entire site and TDEC will review the results.
The EPA and TDEC will identify equipment and resources needed to remediate the site. The initial survey information will inform the larger evaluation to occur as soon as possible based on the availability of external resources (i.e., equipment) that will be needed.
According to Young and Sanders, Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly have provided TDEC new funding of approximately $22 million that will enable remediation of eligible sites/projects in Tennessee.
Once sampling and equipment needs for the ANC site are finalized, there will be three (3) potential paths forward: (1) EPA continues funding beyond site characterization to full clean-up; (2) TDEC may collaborate with another federal entity; and (3) Site cleanup and mitigation utilizing State dollars under the Governor’s conservation and cleanup initiative.
“We were very excited about hosting Deputy Commissioner Young and Director of Remediation Sanders for a workshop with Anderson County,” County Mayor Terry Frank said. “The news they gave us for clean-up of the American Nuclear Corp. site was far more than I could have hoped for. We are thankful to the EPA, to Governor Lee, the General Assembly, and TDEC for the progress so far, and we look forward to a continued partnership with TDEC on this exciting project. This advancement is the result of a great working relationship with TDEC and Anderson County, and we look forward to accomplishing great things.”
“I think the news from TDEC was better than what we could have hoped for,” County Commission Chairman Josh Anderson agreed. “The only thing that’s kind of unknown is whether the EPA will fund it (the cleanup) federally or will it be the State. I appreciate Mayor Frank getting everybody in the same room together. That’s been a long time coming,” Anderson said.
“I was thoroughly impressed with the state’s presentation and I’m very excited about the news from TDEC,” said District 1 County Commissioner Tracy Wandell, whose district includes the American Nuclear site. “I’m looking forward to the future and next steps.”
Tyler Mayes, newly elected District 1 county commissioner, said: “TDEC’s announcement is a huge answered prayer for the people of District One and Anderson County. Hard work and perseverance by our former and current leaders have brought us to this point.”
The American Nuclear Corp. site is located off Blockhouse Valley Road in South Clinton. Its history dates back to an incident that occurred on February 20, 1969, when significant and unacceptable levels of radioactivity were detected in water samples collected from a nearby river during quarterly water sampling by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. During its brief existence, the company was repeatedly cited for not complying with state and federal regulations concerning the handling of radioactive materials. Some cleanup began in 1974, and the state of Tennessee took control of the site in 1980.