A proposal to transport radium waste from Denver to Uravan, Colo., possibly through Mesa County, has drawn calls for public involvement from local officials.
Grand Junction Mayor John Bennett said he isn't fond of taking radium waste through the area and, if the material is transported through Mesa County on approved hazardous materials routes, there is little the city can do.But Bennett added, "I think there should be some kind of public meeting to find out how people feel about it."
County Commissioner Dick Pond said this week that he prefers "to wait and see what the proposal is before we make a statement."
Commission Chairwoman Maxine Albers said she would prefer that the radium wastes be left in Denver because of the expense of transporting them.
UMETCO Minerals Corp. officials told the state this week they intend to apply for a permit to operate a low-level radioactive waste disposal site near the company's uranium mill near Uravan.
UMETCO, a subsidiary of Union Carbide, hopes to have the first phase operational in five months, so it can submit a bid to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for cleanup of the wastes.
Larry Anderson, director of the Utah Bureau of Radiation Control, said he was displeased that Colorado had not informed Utah about the proposed storage site, which would be about 20 miles from the Utah-Colorado border.
Anderson said he is concerned about transportation, safety and the potential detrimental effects of the disposal site on the Colorado River.
Whether the state of Utah will take any action on the UMETCO proposal hasn't been decided, Anderson said. "A lot of things are open to us."
Citizens can forward comments about the project to the state as the health department studies the proposal. A preliminary decision should be made in mid-June, said Ken Weaver, senior health physicist for the department's Radiation Control Division.