Attorney General Neil Hartigan Friday hailed a federal appeals court ruling saying Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp. must apply for local and state permits before building a facility to bury radioactive waste in West Chicago.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling said the Oklahoma company must get municipal construction permits from West Chicago and obtain permits from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency before burying the waste.The ruling, upholding a federal judge's rejection of the company's request for a preliminary injunction, was the latest setback for Kerr-McGee in a decadelong battle to dispose of 500,000 tons of radioactive thorium waste in and near the DuPage County community.
State officials oppose burial in Illinois and want it crated and shipped to a Utah dump site. Kerr-McGee previously argued shipping the waste would be more dangerous and wanted to build a containment cell in West Chicago.
"This is national in scope because it applies to every local and state government," Hartigan said. "What we've done is stopped the construction of this disposal cell. They had started work last March 5. They were thumbing their noses at everyone."
The waste the company wants to bury at a now-shuttered facility where gas lamps once were made was inherited by Kerr-McGee when it bought the property in 1967.
Hartigan said the thorium waste would remain radioactive for "millions of years" while the cell would be designed to last at most for 1,000 years.