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Poll: How Do Utahns Feel About Radioactive Waste Debate?

Poll: How Do Utahns Feel About Radioactive Waste Debate?

Posted - Nov. 12, 2003 at 5:23 p.m.



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Richard Piatt ReportingTalk of additional radioactive waste in Utah is capturing a lot of attention and stirring a lot of emotion across the state. But how much does the average Utahn know about, or care about the waste proposed for the Envirocare landfill?

It's the talk of talk radio and complicated enough to confuse most people. But when it comes to radioactive mill tailing waste coming to Utah, there are strong opinions.

Starting with who should decide whether the waste should come to Utah: A whopping 91 percent say it should be the state, not the Federal Government, who has the final word on whether the waste should come here. This is according to the survey USA Survey performed exclusively for Eyewitness News.

The 'state's rights' issue could buffer both Envirocare and Congressman Rob Bishop from criticism over the deal. Both agreed to submit to that this week.

Ken Alkema, Envirocare: "We have committed that we won't do anything unless the state of Utah regulators approve this process and also the policy makers."

But there are indications Utahns are still not thrilled about accepting the waste. Of 500 Utahns who rate their own knowledge of this complex issue as 'high', 88 percent say the waste in Ohio and Niagra Falls should not be reclassified so it can be allowed to be disposed in Utah. This goes to the unique properties of the material in question.

As far as political perceptions go, Utahns are split. 51 per cent say Congressman Bishop has been acting more in the interests of the radioactive waste industry than in the interests of Utah citizens in the deal. Only 12per cent say the people of Utah are first on the Congressman's mind.

Bishop told Eyewitness News Tuesday he wants Utah officials to decide what happens with the waste, and denies promoting or profiting from Envirocare's acceptance of the material.

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