Envirocare Hearing Turns Lively

Envirocare Hearing Turns Lively


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John Hollenhorst reporting A legislative hearing on Utah's only commercial radioactive waste dump this morning, turned into a lively public debate on the company's future.

Is it safe? And are Utah taxpayers getting a fair deal?

Envirocare is the only facility of its kind in the nation, and some say it's making Utah a national dumping ground.

The immediate issue is whether Envirocare should be allowed to accept more radioactive forms of low level waste..and whether the state's tax and fee structure is appropriate.

But it's clear the company has unwillingly tapped into a deep public suspicion over nuclear waste.

The company has been in business in Tooele County since the late 1980's, providing a place where mildly radioactive waste can be permanently buried.

Envirocare has always been controversial. But the company has generally been given broad latitude by state officials to seek a wider market in the radioactive waste disposal business.

Lawmakers are considering whether to allow two new categories called B and C waste.

But when they threw it open for public comment, citizens lined up 25 deep to talk.

Diane Mellen/Summit County: THERE IS A GREAT RISK ACCIDENTS REGARDLESS OF WHAT SOME PEOPLE WILL SAY ABOUT HOW SAFE IT IS. THERE ARE RISKS BECAUSE YOU ARE DEALING WITH THE UNKNOWN. WHY TAKE A CHANCE? "

Sammy Blackbear/Skull Valley: "TOMORROW THEY'LL BE ASKING FOR HIGH LEVEL NUCLEAR WASTE. IF YOU DON'T KNOW THAT YOU SHOULD. BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT'S GOING ON HERE TODAY."

Richard Wagner/Critic: "EVERY SINGLE LOW LEVEL NUCLEAR WASTE SITE HAS LEAKED IN THE PAST. I SEE THAT AS HIGHLY PROBLEMATIC."

But company supporters argued the company provides a national service...that voters refused to shoot down on election day a couple of years ago.

Alan Anderson/Chamber of Commerce: "THE INITIATIVE THAT WAS ON THE BALLOT THAT WAS VOTED DOWN THAT WE NOT REGULATE OR OVERLY REGULATE OR OVERLY TAX PRIVATE BUSINESS THAT IS PERFORMING A SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY, A SERVICE TO US AS CONSUMERS."

Ken Alkema/Envirocare Vice President: "THESE FACILITIES WERE CREATED SPECIFICALLY TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT. AND THAT'S WHY THEY ARE LOW RISK."

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