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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The company at the center of many public relations battles in the state over its radioactive waste landfill is trying to improve its image with informercials and a DVD.
Envirocare of Utah plans to explain its business by running 30-minute informercials narrated by a former Miss America on local television station.
Envirocare hired former sports broadcaster and Miss America Sharlene Wells Hawkes to narrate the video presentation, said Senior Vice President Tim Barney.
"Before being interested, she did a lot of independent research on her own," he said.
The company also has been running radio infomercials for the last few months, and Envirocare has produced a 30-minute DVD to explain its business and answer questions raised by its opponents.
Envirocare is no stranger to controversy or opposition. In the latest, Envirocare has received a permit from the state Division of Radiation Control to receive B and C waste that expires in June 2006, but neither the governor nor the legislature have given their needed approval.
"We're not happy with that, but we can live with it," Barney said.
"Radiation is not well understood by the public. People are afraid of the unknown. One of the purposes of the DVD is to explain that radiation is everywhere and is not something we need to be afraid of. It's something we need to manage," Barney said.
"We have found over the years the single best thing we can do to educate the public about what we do is to give them site tours," Barney said.
The question the company struggled with was how best to offer the most people in Utah a site tour, he said.
"We thought we needed to take the tour to the people so we developed the half-hour DVD. The virtual tour of the site 80 miles west of Salt Lake City addresses the arguments our opponents have used."
Chief among topics on the DVD are safety and safe storage of radioactive materials; what is radiation; transportation safety; impact on the local economy; why the western desert is the best place to store such materials; and regulations governing the site.
The infomercial campaign will run for at least three weeks, and then it will be evaluated for effectiveness, Barney said.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)