EnergySolutions fined for radioactive waste breach

State regulators slapped Utah nuclear waste processor EnergySolutions Inc. with a fine this week for handling waste that is more radioactive than its license allows.

The Utah Radiation Control Board fined EnergySolutions $80,000 on Thursday for burying 23 containers of low-level radioactive waste that exceeded standards.

EnergySolutions reported the violation in December after it was discovered at its Clive, Utah, low-level radioactive waste landfill, according to a news release from the state.

"EnergySolutions did report the problem to us, and we did consider that when we determined the penalties," Rusty Lundberg, director of the Division of Radiation Control, said in a statement. "Although we appreciate the cooperative efforts to resolve the errors, we will continue to ensure a process is in place to prevent this from happening again."

EnergySolutions disposal customers that sent the hazardous waste to Utah were fined last month for the shipments, most of which were transported in 2010.

EnergySolutions officials agreed to the fines and said adjustments have been made to prevent similar cases from happening again.

"We feel the fines are appropriate and will work with the state to plan and complete a state approved supplemental environmental project," EnergySolutions President and CEO Val Christensen said in a statement. No details have been released on what the project will be.

Last year, EnergySolutions proposed and later abandoned controversial plans to import up to 20,000 tons of waste from Italy’s shuttered nuclear power program. After processing in Tennessee, about 1,600 tons would have been disposed of at the company’s disposal site about 70 miles west of Salt Lake City in Tooele County.

Earlier this month, the Salt Lake City-based company began talks with a Sweden-based competitor to dispose of solid nuclear waste in Utah. The plan is to use Studsvik Inc.’s technology to process nuclear power plant waste into solid form and dispose of it at the EnergySolutions plant.

Critics of EnergySolutions’ plans to bring more waste into Utah applauded the latest fine by the state.

"The state is doing as good of a job as they can in this area, but we do still rely on the company to self-report," said Matt Pacenza, policy director at Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah. "In the absence of more inspections, the state has sent a strong message to EnergySolutions with this hefty fine."

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