Italian nuclear waste fact sheet
Representative Jim Matheson (D-UT), along with congressmen from Tennessee and Kentucky, is co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation to ban the importation of low-level radioactive waste into the United States. Senators from Maryland and Tennessee are sponsoring a Senate version of the bill.
The foreign waste ban bills, H.R. 515 and S. 232, are critical to keeping foreign nuclear waste out of Utah.
EnergySolutions has asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a license to import 20,000 tons of radioactive waste from dismantled nuclear reactors in Italy. The waste will be melted down and incinerated at an EnergySolutions’ facility in Tennessee and then 1,600 tons of radioactive ash will be dumped in Utah.
Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, the Utah Radiation Control Board, and a regional regulatory board called the Northwest Interstate Compact blocked this waste from coming to Utah. EnergySolutions responded by suing to get its way.
The NRC has delayed making a decision until September at the earliest. However, nearly 4,000 people submitted comments to the NRC, the vast majority overwhelmingly against the proposal.
EnergySolutions' import request:
Figure 1. EnergySolutions' import request to the NRC for 20,000 tons of low-level nuclear waste from Italy is almost ten times greater than all previously approved import requests for domestic disposal combined.
[i] There have been a total of 24 applications to import low-level radioactive waste filed with the NRC, of which 13 have been granted. Some are for amounts as small as a cubic meter or a few dozen kilograms.
[ii] Prospectus of EnergySolutions, SEC Registration No. 333-141645, Nov. 17, 2007, pp. 4-5.
[iii] "U.K. waste next in line for Utah?" Salt Lake Tribune, May 28, 2008.
[iv] Disposal space for U.S. low-level waste is limited. EnergySolutions is the only disposal option for 36 states, with 96% of commercial low-level nuclear waste being dumped in Utah. Importing foreign nuclear waste will only compound this problem.
[v] Letter from the Honorable Bart Gordon, U.S. House of Representatives, to the Honorable Dale Klein, Chairman, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Feb. 12, 2008.
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