SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert told GOP leadership Monday he allowed a new law on depleted uranium to go into effect without his signature because he believes it makes it tougher for the low-level, but highly controversial radioactive waste to come to Utah.
"Public safety is my immediate concern with the issue of radioactive waste," he wrote. "With the modifications that have been made to this bill, I believe public safety has been protected and it will be more difficult for depleted uranium to come into Utah than under current law."
Herbert addressed the letter to House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, and Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton.
With the modifications that have been made to this bill, I believe public safety has been protected and it will be more difficult for depleted uranium to come into Utah than under current law.
–Utah Gov. Gary Herbert
He said he has had reservations about how the bill came forward, but he recognized the need for clarity when it came to regulatory challenges before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the unique waste stream.
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality has been in the midst of site specific performance assessment to determine if EnergySolutions' Clive facility in Tooele County is a suitable disposal facility for the radioactive waste, which grows hotter over time.
Depleted uranium is the byproduct of the uranium enrichment process and is used in military and medical applications because of its extremely dense nature.
Critics do not believe it should be buried in Utah.
Herbert said he believes the bill's requirement that the "robust" analysis be completed plus the added requirement that the U.S. Department of Energy guarantee it will step in and assume responsibility for the site in "perpetuity" satisfies his concerns over disposal of the material.