JEFF KART, BAY CITY TIMES, JUNE 27, 2006
If you’ve seen men in white suits at the Saginaw River mouth, don’t be alarmed.
They’ve been digging out hundreds of tons of radioactive waste and contaminated soil from an old Dow Chemical Co. site across from the Consumers Energy’s Karn-Weadock power plant.
The waste, called thorium slag, is being loaded into air-tight rail cars and shipped to a landfill in Utah.
“We began in early June,” said Garret Geer, a Dow spokesman. “It’s scheduled to run through mid-July to the end of July.”
The slag is a byproduct of castings made at a magnesium foundry that Dow operated in Bay City from the 1940s through the 1960s. It’s been buried by the Saginaw Bay for decades.
So far, about 80 rail cars have been loaded with the gray, powdery slag and contaminated dirt from the site, which takes up more than 9 acres.
Geer said about 105 rail cars will be needed to take away all the material.
When all is said and done, more than 11,000 tons of slag and dirt will have gone west, said Dave Wojtkowiak, radiation safety officer for Babcock Services Inc. of Rhode Island, a contractor.
Dow is working with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission on the cleanup. Thorium is known to cause cancer, but NRC officials have said the work poses no danger to the public.
Wojtkowiak said the cleanup will make the site safer.