[ RadSafe ] DU Disposal in Utah

Roger Helbig rhelbig at sfo.com
Thu Jul 16 01:29:40 CDT 2009

The Utah Radiation Control Board decided to postpone voting on banning
disposal of DU at Energy Solutions in Clive, Utah.


Here is an earlier article from the Salt Lake Tribune.  The reporter Judy
Fahys actually seems like someone who is interested in learning and does not
have her mind made up.  Some of you might want to contact her at
fahys at sltrib.com  and provide some advice if there are any glaring errors in
this story.

Is depleted uranium too hot for Utah site?

Environment > State Radiation Control Board has decided to look further into
the question.

<mailto:fahys at sltrib.com?subject=Salt%20Lake%20Tribune:%20Is%20depleted%20ur

<mailto:fahys at sltrib.com?subject=Salt%20Lake%20Tribune:%20Is%20depleted%20ur
anium%20too%20hot%20for%20Utah%20site?> By Judy Fahys

<mailto:fahys at sltrib.com?subject=Salt%20Lake%20Tribune:%20Is%20depleted%20ur
anium%20too%20hot%20for%20Utah%20site?> The Salt Lake Tribune


Updated: 06/10/2009 03:53:35 PM MDT

Utah's Radiation Control Board will dig deeper into the long-term risks of
depleted uranium before it decides whether the unusual form of low-level
radioactive waste warrants a moratorium. 

But an attorney for EnergySolutions Inc. cautioned board members about legal
and technical challenges they will face if they try banning depleted uranium
temporarily or permanently. 

"It's a fairly high bar" for the board to justify a moratorium, said
attorney James Holtkamp. 

Board members said they would rather have waited for the U.S. Nuclear
Regulatory Commission to wrap up its own in-depth study of how much DU, as
its called, can be safely buried in a shallow disposal site like
EnergySolutions' mile-square landfill in Tooele County. 

But the that federal review could take years, and DU is already piled up at
government nuclear sites and an equal amount is expected from new uranium
enrichment plants coming online in the next few years. NRC estimates the
total needing disposal at 1.4 million tons, with just two disposal sites
available to take it: EnergySolutions and a yet-to-be-opened Texas landfill.

DU in small amounts clearly falls within Class A for low-level waste, as the
NRC reaffirmed a few months ago. But, because DU transforms over time to
high-radon "decay" products, it actually gets more hazardous over time and
peaks in danger in 1 million years. 

EnergySolutions said it has disposed of 49,000 tons of DU in the past 20
years, but that won't top the state's Class A hazard limit for at least
35,000 years. 

That's a problem for regulators. 

Do they write a law that ensures the safety of public health and the
environment for 100 years? A thousand years? A million? 

"First of all, I believe the public should be protected and the environment
should be protected," said board vice chair Elizabeth Goryunova, suggesting
that the board had a responsibility to consider the need for a moratorium
despite hassles that might be involved in imposing one. "That's absolutely a

Board members will hear presentations from Energy-Solutions, the Healthy
Environment Alliance of Utah and its legal advisors at its next meeting. 

"I think it behooves us in terms of our responsibility," said board member
David Tripp, a University of Utah physicist. 

Vanessa Pierce of HEAL was pleased with the board's decision to take more
time on the subject. HEAL requested the moratorium at the board's May

"They're showing good due diligence," she said, "in how they are proceeding
with this issue." 

fahys at sltrib.com 


More information about the RadSafe mailing list