Army Corps of Engineers to stay in charge of Armstrong County nuclear clean-up


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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will remain in charge of cleaning up a radioactive nuclear waste site in Parks, Armstrong County, that is home to materials that forced the agency to halt operations and bring in Homeland Security guards earlier this summer.

The decision to keep the Pittsburgh district of the Corps in charge comes after federal officials stopped operations at the site, which spans 44 acres near Apollo and houses nuclear waste left behind from operations conducted by the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) and Atlantic Richfield Co.

The Babcock and Wilcox Co. most recently owned the land before closing the plant in 1983.

Officials stopped the clean-up project in May after crews discovered greater quantities of what they called "complex" materials like uranium and plutonium at the site.

Armed guards began patrolling the fenced-in land, and officials began reviewing whether the Army Corps was the best agency to continue the job.

The Army Corps has been in charge of cleaning up similar sites across the country. The old NUMEC site is the only such operation in the Corps' Pittsburgh district.

Community members filing public comments have been almost unanimous in their support for the agency and its performance.

The Army Corps said in a press release expected to go out later today that they will be hiring a new contractor to resume the clean-up. There is no estimate as to when work might start.

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Erich Schwartzel: eschwartzel@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1455. First Published August 13, 2012 3:45 PM


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