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Company's bid for license to import Italian nuclear waste into US draws opposition

Company's bid for license to import Italian nuclear waste into US draws opposition

A company's bid for a license to import 20,000 tons of nuclear waste from Italy drew nearly 4,000 public comments by Tuesday's deadline, as environmental groups, lawmakers and Utah's governor seek to derail the plan.
EnergySolutions Inc. is seeking to import the low-level radioactive waste through the ports of Charleston, South Carolina, or New Orleans. If approved by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, it would be the largest amount of nuclear waste ever allowed into the United States.
After processing in Tennessee, about 1,600 tons would be shipped to Utah, home of the country's largest and only privately owned low-level radioactive waste dump.
The Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah submitted 1,300 comments in opposition Tuesday, the last day to send comments to the NRC.
The group contends if any foreign waste is allowed, the company will ask for more in the future. EnergySolutions has publicly said it intends to seek more foreign business and that its Utah disposal site is one of its competitive strengths.
"It's clear that if this Italian waste proposal is granted, it will set a dangerous precedent for Utah and the United States to become the world's nuclear waste dumping ground," said John Urgo, alliance outreach director. "We should not open the door even a crack to foreign nuclear waste being disposed here."
EnergySolutions has said it has plenty of capacity at its site for the Italian waste and that it would pledge to cap the amount of foreign waste accepted at the site to 5 percent of all capacity.
The company says if its site took all of the low-level radioactive material from the decommissioning of all 104 U.S. reactors, it would still have nearly 50 million cubic feet of unused capacity. It also says the Italian waste would represent less than 1 percent of the waste it accepts annually.
The NRC isn't expected to rule on the import license until September at the earliest, said spokesman Dave McIntyre.
Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman responded to a public outcry against the proposal by using an interstate compact to block the waste from coming to Utah if EnergySolutions' application is approved. But EnergySolutions is challenging in federal court the state's authority to keep the waste out.
Opponents say the waste should not be allowed into the country because the U.S. needs EnergySolutions' dump for its own waste.
The company accepts about 98 percent of the nation's low-level radioactive waste. In July, a site in South Carolina that takes some low-level radioactive waste will close its doors to all waste that does not originate there, New Jersey or Connecticut.
Some members of Congress are hoping to pass a law that would close American borders to nuclear waste unless it originated here or came from an overseas military facility.
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On the Net:
http://www.nrc.gov
http://www.energysolutions.com
http://www.healutah.org


Updated : 2021-05-09 21:38 GMT+08:00