Want Not, Waste Not


Garbage is nobody's favorite topic of conversation, but University Health Services (UHS) officials devoted a lot of time to the subject this fall when the University's sole outlet for disposal of low-level radioactive waste suddenly shut down. Getting rid of the less-than-deadly waste, produced by area laboratories and hospitals at the rate of about 3500 30-gallon barrels each year, proved more than a slight headache for University officials when Washington Gov. Dixie Lee Ray closed the Hanford, Wash., dumping site in early October.

University and hospital officials issued dire forecasts of imminent research and testing halts as the waste piled up in storerooms; meanwhile, the Cambridge City Council, headed by the always vocal Alfred E. Vellucci, launched an investigation of its own.

While officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Interex Corporation--a New England-based company on contract to remove Harvard's radioactive sludge--wrung their hands in horror, University officials continued to seek alternative disposal methods.

In late October the University finally got its break and began shipping its barrels to a Texas site which evaporated the liquid material and stored the remaining residue. By the time Cambridge fall elections passed, even Vellucci had forgotten about the problem.