Starmet CMI (State of South Carolina)

This site description was provided by the cognizant Agreement State, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) makes no claim regarding the validity of the information provided. See our Site Disclaimer for more information.

1.0 Site Identification

Type of Site: Complex Materials
Location: Barnwell, SC
License No.: SC Radioactive Materials License #322
Docket No.:
License Status: Terminated

2.0 Site Status Summary

The Site is located on a 320-acre parcel in a sparsely populated, rural area, approximately 6.3 miles southwest of Barnwell, South Carolina.  The area surrounding the Site is a mix of agricultural parcels, and undeveloped land.  On the parcel are two main structures that consist of the Reduction and Conversion Building (R&C Building) and the Depleted Uranium Technology Recycling Center (DU Building).  Former retention ponds are located approximately 100 feet south of the DU Building. 

The former Starmet facility was built in 1982 and operated for approximately 19 years.  When the facility was active, the processes performed included the reclamation of uranium scrap, conversion of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) to uranium tetrafluoride (UF4), production of uranium oxide aggregate and depleted uranium metal, and re-plating of uranium metal counterweights used in the aircraft industry. 

Routine site inspection reports beginning in July 2000 documented multiple violations of the facility's Radioactive Materials License #322 issued by the South Carolina Departmental of Environmental Control (S. C. DHEC).  In June 2001, Starmet and DHEC executed a Consent Order relating to the violations observed in July 2000.  In September 2001, DHEC placed a moratorium on Starmet to prohibit the receipt of any radioactive material.  Starmet filed a voluntary petition for bankruptcy on March 26, 2002, pursuant to Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.  On June 25, 2002, DHEC issued an Emergency and Administrative Order to Starmet which required the facility to cease operations.

DHEC then immediately referred the Site to the US EPA Region IV (EPA).  Between 2002 and 2006, EPA's Emergency Response and Removal Branch treated approximately 550,000 gallons of uranium-contaminated wastewater from the two retention ponds and also removed approximately 20,000 drums of depleted UF4, plating acids, sludge, and other waste materials.

Since the completion of EPA's removal action, DHEC conducted multiple investigations of soil and groundwater, evaluated cleanup alternatives, prepared decommissioning cost estimates, conducted operation and maintenance (O&M) activities, provided security, and maintained an onsite radiation safety officer.

In 2017, DHEC issued a CERCLA proposed plan that identified the preferred remedial alternative as decommissioning with unrestricted release.  This alternative includes decontamination of the DU Building, demolition and removal of the R&C Building, and excavation and disposal of contaminated soil. The concentration-based cleanup levels are 1.76 pCi/g for soil and 2,000 dpm/100 cm2 for surfaces.  Groundwater has not been impacted.

3.0 Major Technical or Regulatory Issues

The technical activities related to the decommissioning are relatively straightforward.  The major regulatory issue will be negotiating an agreement with potentially responsible parties (PRPs) to perform the remedial action.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, March 09, 2021