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EnergySolutions asks board to amend license to allow depleted uranium



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SALT LAKE CITY -- EnergySolutions is applying pressure to the state over the question of accepting depleted uranium at its Tooele County landfill. Company officials want to amend its current license in order to ship depleted uranium to Utah.

The company already accepts low-level radioactive waste at its facility in Tooele County. The depleted uranium that they want to bring in is a completely different animal.

EnergySolutions applied with the Radiation Control Board in September. That board said they would accept it under certain conditions. In October, the board added an additional condition to that license expansion. That's when the company cried foul.

On Tuesday, company officials threatened legal action with the state if they don't get what they want—which is to add 10,000 drums of depleted uranium to the company's Clive facility. They said state legal procedures about allowing that waste were not followed, and complained vocally to the radiation control board.

Tuesday's meeting was really a question over legal procedures, but since depleted uranium actually gets more radioactive over time, the anti-nuclear group Heal Utah addressed the basic question of whether the state should accept such waste at all.

From EnergySolutions' standpoint, a request for a site safety review--which is the additional stop gap--is lengthening a moratorium on waste. Both are unacceptable, the company said.

The NRC has told you that a moratorium of this nature on DU (depleted uranium) would have the effect of them re-evaluating the state's agreement status. So, don't take my word for it, see what the NRC says," EnergySolutions attorney Craig Galley told the board.

"The reason that they have that authority is a mistake. I mean, it's a mistake they were able to take that under the class A rubric when the class A rules never dealt effectively with large amounts of depleted uranium. We're simply saying look, the people deserve some redress for this," Heal Utah's Christopher Thomas countered.

Heal Utah representatives said there aren't enough stop gaps to take into consideration this depleted uranium will get worse over time. They also said the NRC has not helped the state out in trying to ferret out this process.

Meanwhile, EnergySolutions officials said the company will lose about a million dollars over the upcoming year by not being allowed to accept this waste.

Of course, the people of Tooele County want to make sure it's going to be safe not only over the next 100 years, but over the next 1,000 years--which is how long this waste lasts as radioactive material.

E-mail: rpiatt@ksl.com

Richard Piatt

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