From the Castle Rock News-Press (Rhonda Moore):
The Colorado Department of Health and Environment notified the town’s utilities department that it must come up with a plan to manage the treatment residuals that will likely contain radioactive materials concentrated by treatment at the plant before March 2013, when the plant is fully operational, said Mark Salley, communications director for the state department. The plant is not creating any residuals at this time because it is still under construction and not operational, Salley said.
The department’s radioactive materials unit provides guidance to facilities where there is a potential for an elevated radioactive material concentration, said Jennifer Opila, radioactive materials unit leader. Opila’s group has provided guidance at 12 facilities in the last two years across Colorado. The department points out that uranium and radium are natural components of Colorado’s geology and will dissolve out of soils and into the state’s water, resulting in elevated levels of radionuclides in groundwater. The treatment process in a water treatment plant removes those contaminants and, when the radium residual levels exceed the state standard, the department’s goal is to ensure the safe removal of the resulting waste, or sludge, without bringing harm to anyone who comes in contact with the residuals, Opila said.
While the levels the state expects to see at the Plum Creek facility do not pose an acute hazard, safety measures at comparable levels would include protective gear such as safety gloves, shoe covering and full clothing covering, she said.