Gov. Norm Bangerter and Utah experts are recommending against a site favored by Colorado state officials for a low-level nuclear disposal facility, 20 miles from the Utah border.
Places in the more-populous western part of Colorado, where disposal would pose fewer environmental hazards, apparently were ruled out because people there don't want them.Utah officials have documents to back up this contention, said Larry F. Anderson, director of the Utah Bureau of Radiation Control. They were obtained both from private sources and the federal government.
"The thing that seems to be swaying the whole consideration (in Colorado) is social-political considerations, rather than technical," he said.
The facility would be built by UMETCO Minerals of Grand Junction, Colo., near the San Miguel River, raising fears of a spill into the river, which is ultimately a tributary of the Colorado River in Utah.
More than a week ago, Gov. Norm Bangerter sent a letter recommending against the site to Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, Anderson said.
The bureau and the Utah Geological and Mineral Survey examined plans for the project and found them "technically deficient, misleading and incomplete," according to the report.
"Primarily, it's a sandstone site," Anderson said. "It's in an area that's still actively eroding.
"One of the things that bothers me most is it sits right next to a river. How many times in this country do we need to learn that we do not dispose of hazardous material in a river or near a river?"
The state of Colorado spent a large amount of money over the past several years searching for a site where this material could be disposed of. "They had looked at 29 sites, and then ranked them all. This site was not included in that study."
In fact, he said, it got the thumbs-down twice from Colorado officials, once from the state's department of health, and then by Colorado's geological survey.
"It was not a good site, geo-technically," he said.
Yet after spending all that time and money, the Colorado health department is supporting the site, he said. And Anderson charged that the reasons are political and not scientific.