AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.The states have known for years that this day would come. But because of political opposition, environmental fears and cost concerns, most of them have done almost nothing to construct new landfills in the meantime. At issue is the Barnwell County dump site, a 235-acre expanse that opened in 1971 close to the Georgia line. The equivalent of more than 40 tractor-trailers full of radioactive trash from 39 states was buried there each year before South Carolina lawmakers in 2000 ordered the place to scale back because they no longer wanted the state to be the nation’s dumping ground. As of July 1, the landfill will take waste only from South Carolina and the two states with which it formed a partnership, New Jersey and Connecticut. State and industry officials say the not-in-my-backyard resistance will lead to “temporary” storage sites in backyards across the nation. The danger, some officials say, is that storing the waste in potentially hundreds of locations across the country could allow radiation to escape. SAFETY: Some worry hospitals and others with radioactive waste could endanger public. By Seanna Adcox The Associated Press COLUMBIA, S.C. – Starting next summer, many power plants, hospitals, universities and companies in 36 states will be forced to store low-level radioactive waste on their own property because a South Carolina landfill is closing its doors to them. Although none of the waste could be used to make a nuclear bomb, some experts fear it could be stolen to make “dirty bombs,” which use conventional explosives to scatter radioactive debris. “As a matter of national security, health and safety, it makes good sense to ultimately dispose of this stuff and not just store it all over the country,” said Rick Jacobi, a nuclear engineer and former general manager of the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Authority. “There will be hundreds, maybe thousands of them. People won’t want to pay others to store the material. They’ll find a closet or warehouse or a shed out back and stick it in there and see what happens.” The trash sent to Barnwell includes protective clothing and gloves, tools, cleaning rags, lab equipment, industrial measuring devices and equipment used to treat cancer patients. It does not include spent fuel from nuclear power plants. The waste is stored in steel containers that are put in concrete vaults and then buried in long trenches. Most waste from hospitals, universities and power plants falls into the lowest-hazard class, which means it decays to nonradioactive levels within 100 years. States had decades in which to build nuclear waste landfills. A 1980 federal law made each state responsible for disposing of non-military low-level waste generated within its borders and encouraged states to work together to develop regional disposal sites. But those efforts have repeatedly run into resistance. Only one low-level landfill has opened in the past 30 years. In 2005, Nebraska was forced to pay $146 million for blocking construction of a landfill for its region. Some environmentalists say that storing waste on a company site is better than shipping it. Power plants, they say, already have places to store radioactive material and have good security. Plus, most medical waste can simply be stored until its radioactivity subsides, after which it can be thrown away safely. “The reality is there aren’t any good choices for radioactive waste right now, so they might as well leave it on site rather than contaminate new sites and transport it across the country, where there could be vehicle accidents,” said Michael Mariotte, executive director of Maryland-based Nuclear Information and Resource Services. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!