Colorado and Montrose County have approved a radioactive-waste disposal facility near the Utah border without responding to concerns raised by Utah, said Larry Anderson, director of the Utah Bureau of Radiation Control.
Gary Broetzman, hearing officer for the Colorado Department of Health, decided a state license should be issued to Umetco Minerals Corp. for a disposal facility at Uravan in western Colorado. He required 17 changes to the original plan submitted by Umetco, however.Montrose County commissioners then voted 2-to-1 to issue the Certificate of Designation needed for the facility.
The site is about 20 miles east of the Utah border and near a tributary of the Colorado River. Mildly radioactive radium wastes from a Denver hazardous-waste cleanup project will be trucked to Uravan and buried in a specially designed landfill.
Envirocare of Utah, which operates a landfill in western Tooele County for disposal of mildly radioactive materials, was vying with Umetco for the contract to dispose of the Denver radium waste.
Anderson said Colorado approved the site without responding to any of the questions raised by Gov. Norm Bangerter in an Oct. 7 letter to Colorado Gov. Roy Romer.
"We're still awaiting the information on which they based their decision. They may have reason to have reached that decision, but we haven't seen any of it," said Anderson.
"My recommendation to Gov. Bangerter is we should take whatever steps are necessary to set this decision aside until they provide us with that information and convince us their decision is correct," Anderson said.
Bangerter raised concerns about the possibility of accidents during transportation of the waste, the geology of the site, the design of the disposal facility and the risk of radioactive materials contaminating the Colorado River.
Similar concerns were raised last month by the leadership of the Utah House of Representatives.