Tennessee Loophole in the Sights of Nuclear Waste Panel

October 21, 2008

By Judy Fahys

McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Nuclear regulators from eight states, including Utah, meet Wednesday
to look for a way to close a loophole that has allowed low-level
radioactive waste from foreign nations to be buried in U.S. landfills.

The Northwest Interstate Compact on Radioactive Waste wants to
address the loophole in Tennessee regulations.

EnergySolutions Inc., a Salt Lake City nuclear-waste company, has
raised awareness about foreign waste in the past year, with a request to
import waste from Italy's decommissioned nuclear power plants, process
it at the company's Tennessee plant and dispose of a small portion of it in
the company's Tooele County specialized landfill.

The company has said the import would not be much different from
the foreign waste it has been burying in Utah for eight years. The waste is
mildly contaminated with radiation -- not lethally dangerous high-level
waste, like that used nuclear fuel.

Yet federal and regional regulators, along with members of
Congress, have raised a red flag about EnergySolutions' latest import request
because of its large volume, about 20,000 tons, compared with 1,883 tons for the
13 import requests federal regulators have previously approved.

EnergySolutions has gone to court to get a federal judge's ruling
on whether the Northwest Compact has jurisdiction over the company's Utah
landfill. The company says no, while the compact says "yes."