Washington Gov. Dixie Lee Ray yesterday afternoon shut down the Hanford, Wash., radioactive waste disposal site, thus cutting off Harvard's outlet for low-level radioactive wastes produced from University research facilities.
Ray, who officially closed the site at 3 p.m., said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is not adhering to its regulations for monitoring the dumping site.
Harvard facilities generated about 100,000 gallons of low-level radioactive waste in 1978. University officials said recently. The University contracts with the Interex Corporation of Natick, Mass., to haul away the waste in 30-gallon barrels.
The site will remain closed until Ray feels that the NRC "meets up with its responsibilities," Terrence R. Strong, director of the radiation and occupational health section in Washington's department of social and health services, said last night.
Watch and Wait
Benjamin G. Ferris, director of the University's office of environmental health and safety, said last night Harvard can wait about a week before too much waste accumulates and must be hauled away.
"I guess we wait patiently," Ferris said. Last May, state officials shut down the Barnwell, S.C., radioactive waste dumping site, forcing Interex to begin shipping Harvard's radioactive waste to the Hanford site.
"The alternatives are very limited," Joe B. Wyatt, vice president for administration, said last night. "The situation parallels Barnwell," he added.
Parker L. Coddington, director of government relations, said last night the Hanford shutdown will "prove to be a very temporary closing."
Coddington said the University will delay shipments of waste, adding that it will make other arrangements if the site remains closed for a longer period.
Harvard and government officials disagreed yesterday whether the University will be able to send its wastes to a site in Beattie, Nev.--the only other radioactive dumping site in the nation.
To the Lions
The NRC is considering opening only one new low-level disposal site--the Lions, Kan., salt mines, once ruled unfit to store high-grade nuclear waster.
Frank Ingram, public information officer for the NRC, last night declined comment on the situation, saying that NRC officials had contacted Washington officials today.
Harvard spent about $1.8 million in 1978 for disposal of low-level radioactive wastes. Increased shipping costs are expected to triple total disposal costs this year, officials said recently.