Depleted uranium shipment arrives in Utah

Depleted uranium shipment arrives in Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The first shipment of depleted uranium from South Carolina has arrived at EnergySolutions Inc.'s facility in Utah's west desert, the Salt Lake City-based company said Monday.

The arrival came less than a week after Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and the U.S. Department of Energy struck a deal that would prohibit the waste from the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C., from being permanently buried in Utah until stricter state guidelines are put in place.

"Pursuant to the agreement between Gov. Herbert and the U.S. Department of Energy, the first shipment of depleted uranium arrived at the EnergySolutions Clive facility Sunday evening around 9 p.m.," EnergySolutions President Val Christensen said in a statement Monday.

The material is waste from the development of nuclear weapons in the Cold War era.

State regulators say they need more time to determine whether depleted uranium can safely be disposed of at the EnergySolutions site about 70 miles west of Salt Lake City. Depleted uranium is different from other waste disposed there because it becomes more radioactive over time, for up to 1 million years.

EnergySolutions said the first shipment involved 52 rail cars. DOE spokeswoman Jen Stutsman has said the shipment included 5,408 55-gallon drums of waste.

The DOE agreed to place the waste in temporary storage once it arrives in Utah, rather than permanently disposing of it. The deal came two days after Herbert called on the department to stop the train loaded with the radioactive waste.

Stutsman has said Utah regulators will have two months to develop new guidelines for disposing of the material.

Two additional rail shipments are expected to be completed by late spring, but they won't leave for Utah until the new guidelines are set. In all, nearly 10,000 metric tons of depleted uranium will be disposed of in Utah.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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