[ RadSafe ] Congress Questions Nuclear Regulatory Decision about Depleted Uranium Lowest Level Waste Classification

Roger Helbig rwhelbig at gmail.com
Wed Mar 25 00:41:12 CDT 2009

Can Depleted Uranium be so concentrated that it is "off the scale" as
commented in this article?  Please, also go look at the comments,
including the buried ones where it seems the scientists posting to
this newspaper website are doomed to be placed by the anti-uranium
crowd that seems to dominate the discussion.  The Congressmen ignore
the fact that the NRC made a similar ruling Accessed in ADAMS as
XR173808 in September 2004.


Roger Helbig

PS -- I have been looking for the IAEA table that shows that U238 has
an unlimited lethal dose weight, which led me to say that the only way
you could die from a lethal dose of DU was to be crushed by it, I just
have not been able to find it in my recent searches - it listed lethal
doses of numerous radioactive elements.


Matheson wants answers on depleted uranium

Tooele» NRC vote approves the radioactive waste for Utah burial

By Judy Fahys

The Salt Lake Tribune

Updated: 03/19/2009 07:44:32 PM MDT

U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson is demanding to know what's behind a decision
by federal regulators to put depleted uranium in the lowest-hazard
category for radioactive waste.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's vote Wednesday sets the stage
for large volumes of depleted uranium to come to Utah and be buried at
the EnergySolutions Inc. radioactive waste disposal site in Tooele
County. While the Salt Lake City nuclear waste company supports the
decision as "sound science," critics say some depleted uranium is too
dangerous for the Utah disposal site, which is licensed to accept the
lowest-hazard waste, "Class A."

Along with House Energy and Environment Subcommittee chairman Edward
J. Markey, D-Mass., Matheson, a Utah Democrat, calls the move
"unsupportable and inconsistent" with radioactive-waste law.

"This arbitrary and capricious mischaracterization of depleted uranium
as Class A waste will undermine public confidence in the waste
classification system [and] may increase risks to the public health
and safety," said a letter the lawmakers sent to the NRC Thursday. It
also "raises the possibility that additional, uncharacterized and
possibly even more dangerous materials could be similarly treated in
the future."

NRC spokesman David McIntyre said: "We will, of course, look at [the
letter] and respond in due course."

The uranium-enrichment waste, often called "DU," can be very low in
hazard, but it also can be so concentrated
that it is off the scale for low-level radioactive waste. The
congressmen note that NRC staff suggest some is hazardous enough to
warrant deeper burial and a robust cover to prevent the release of
alpha radiation, which actually increases over time.

Matheson and Markey said they expect NRC to turn over by April 2 all
the documents behind the depleted-uranium decision, including
communications with the U.S. Energy Department and EnergySolutions.

EnergySolutions already has accepted small amounts of depleted uranium
-- some of it from a Superfund cleanup in Markey's home state of
Massachusetts at a factory that made uranium-tipped bullets for the
Army for nearly 30 years.

fahys at sltrib.com

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