EnergySolutions seeks yet another exemption from the law
An emergency meeting opens a public comment period regarding the company’s exemption request to store depleted uranium munitions
Salt Lake City, Utah, August 29, 2018 — Today, Utah’s Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control Board held an emergency meeting to take action on EnergySolutions’ latest request to be exempted from the current rule which places limits on the amount of depleted uranium that can be brought to Utah. The Board opened the exemption request up to public comment, which will be open for 30 days beginning on September 6, 2018. HEAL Utah and the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club are concerned by the precedent that this exemption sets.
The comment period will allow input on EnergySolutions’ request to seek an exemption on mass and concentration limits for depleted uranium solid metal penetrators (DU Penetrators) which are the core of military-grade bullets. Currently, the law places a one metric ton and 5% or greater concentration limit on all DU shipments. Any amount greater than one metric ton requires a performance assessment be conducted to determine the public and environmental health and safety risks.
“This is the third time in a year that EnergySolutions has asked for an exemption from the laws which regulate their operations and that were put in place to safeguard public health and safety,” HEAL Utah’s Executive Director Dr. Scott Williams said. “If this exemption is granted, it will establish a dangerous precedent that skirting the law is business-as-usual for EnergySolutions.”
The exemption would allow EnergySolutions to dispose of an undefined amount of DU Penetrators in Utah and to bypass a performance assessment that evaluates the public health and environmental risks associated with DU materials. EnergySolutions claims that their sudden request was spurred by an inquiry from and time frame set by the Department of Defense.
“No matter which form it’s in, DU becomes increasingly radioactive over time,” Ashley Soltysiak, Director of the Utah Sierra Club said. “This waste persists for millennia and eventually will violate our state standards for nuclear waste storage. Ultimately, EnergySolutions is trying to rush this process through, putting profits over human health.”
Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has already been engaged in the review of EnergySolutions’ performance assessment on DU for the past 7 years.
“DEQ’s final evaluation of DU is expected in the coming months,” said Dr. Williams. “Even with a request by the Department of Defense, it does not justify the regulatory process, which has been placed into rule by the Board itself, be bypassed. This issue has a long history in Utah and our citizens deserve a full assessment of the risks associated with storing DU here.”
Comments on the exemption request can be made to the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control beginning on September 6, 2018. The comment period will be open for 30 days. EnergySolutions and HEAL Utah will both be presenting at the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control Board meeting on September 13th in Salt Lake City, Utah.
About HEAL Utah
HEAL Utah has been an environmental advocate, watchdog, and strategic influencer in Utah for nearly 20 years. By empowering grassroots advocates, using science-based solutions, and pursuing common-sense policy, HEAL has a track record of tackling some of the biggest threats to Utah’s environment and public health — and succeeding. HEAL focuses on improving air quality, promoting renewable energy, combating climate change, and protecting Utah from radioactive waste.
About the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club
The Utah Chapter works to protect Utah’s wild places, wildlife, and waters, as well as the people and communities who depend on them. The Chapter’s activism and advocacy are based on their strong grassroots networks, citizen-based leadership, and the guidance and skillsets of professional staff support. With over 35,000 members and supporters across the state of Utah, they work to protect public lands, promote renewable energy, and support initiatives that promote clean air strategies. They maintain a presence at the Utah Legislature to advocate on the full spectrum of environmental issues to amplify the voices of our members.