Measure would double fines for illegal radioactive waste

Published: Tuesday, March 5 2013 11:30 a.m. MST

A legislative proposal requires the country's radioactive waste generators to grant access to Utah regulators for inspections and verification of the material before it can be brought into the state.

Douglas C. Pizac, AP

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SALT LAKE CITY — A legislative proposal requires the country's radioactive waste generators to grant access to Utah regulators for inspections and verification of the material before it can be brought into the state.

The measure would also double the civil penalties — from $5,000 to $10,000 — for each violation of Utah's ban on prohibiting all but low-level radioactive waste.

Provisions in HB124, sponsored by Rep. Brad Dee, R-Ogden, arose from a highly critical audit of the state Division of Radiation Control performed by the Office of the Legislative Auditor General.

The audit noted that state regulators couldn't guarantee the radioactivity levels of waste brought into Utah because the division relied too heavily on the industry to police itself.

In the report released in September, auditors noted that 37 containers of waste shipped to EnergySolutions' Clive facility in Tooele County violated Class A limits of radioactivity. The violations were self-reported by EnergySolutions to state regulators. Utah law prohibits radioactive waste disposal of all but the lowest radioactive levels of waste.

While auditors noted the containers represented just a small fraction of the overall waste accepted at the facility, the larger concern was the lack of independent verification of waste classification by the division. The bill requires waste generators or brokers to agree to on-site inspections if the division desires.

Dee's measure has already passed the House unanimously and received the same endorsement Tuesday by the Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Agriculture Committee.

Matt Pacenza, policy director for HEAL Utah, said the bill addresses needed reforms but does not give state regulators enough time to properly consider issues related to permitting or license changes.

The bill, Pacenza said, sets time frames and deadlines in the permitting arena that aren't realistic given the ramifications of unique waste streams such as depleted uranium.

Committee Chairman Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, said he'd prefer that the bill advance and have Dee work on those issues later.

E-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com

Twitter: amyjoi16

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