NOTE : This Utah law change gives Utah governments control over acceptance of uranium mill tailings - in any concentration - at Utah radioactive waste facilities (e.g., EnviroCare).
However, this change specifically exempts the NRC's ongoing "alternate feed materials" scheme for disposal of FUSRAP site uranium tailings at IUC's White Mesa mill south of Blanding, UT.
See law change: http://www.le.state.ut.us/~2004/htmdoc/hbillhtm/HB0145S03.htm


Nuke controls clear House

Bill would give state say-so on storage of new types of materials

By Judy Fahys The Salt Lake Tribune

February 21, 2004

House lawmakers drew a line Friday on radioactive waste, passing a bill that would require elected leaders to say "yes" before more hazardous types can be disposed of in Utah.

Following its 63-6 vote in the state House of Representatives, Rep. Stephen Urquhart's House Bill 145 now goes to the Senate, where the St. George lawmaker said he expects it to receive solid support. The bill goes forward with approving nods from both En virocare of Utah, the company most affected, and environmentalists -- onetime critics whose opposition once appeared certain to doom the bill.

"We hit the Kumbaya point," said Urquhart, noting the conflicts had been resolved during the bill's committee review. "It's time to get it over to the Senate and let them look at it."

Co-chairman of a legislative waste task force, Urquhart cobbled together a hard-wrought compromise that pleased and provoked lawmakers in both parties, even while many complained the technicalities of isotopes and picocuries were beyond their grasp.

In its final form Friday, the bill would require the Legislature and the governor to give explicit approval anytime Envirocare seeks to dispose of radioactive waste that is hotter than "Class A." That classification is part of the A-B-C scale that states and the federal government use to measure the hazard level of low-level radioactive waste. Class A is the lowest level.

Although the legislation still won't give Utah's elected leaders any say over high-level radioactive waste, such as the federally licensed facility planned for the Skull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation, it would close some loopholes for waste going into sections of Envirocare that are not now regulated by the A-B-C system.

Those loopholes have allowed the privately owned and operated Envirocare to expand operations at its mile-square landfill in Tooele County from just three radioactive materials in 1988 to more than 200 today -- all with regulatory approval granted by stat e and federal bureaucrats. Urquhart reminded his fellow House lawmakers on Friday that he proposed the measure last fall in reaction to the U.S. Energy Department's efforts to send unusually concentrated sludge from cleanups in Ohio and New York to a federally controlled part of En virocare even though the waste exceeded a statewide ban on such hot radioactive material. Congress reclassified the Ohio and New York waste so it could go to Utah, but Envirocare opted out of the bidding for the multi-million dollar contract after a publi c outcry and opposition from Gov. Olene Walker.

"We heard the public wants us more involved in radioactive waste policy," said Urquhart, "and we took a vote today to become more involved."

Urquhart pointed out Friday that he originally wanted Envirocare to have to seek approval by elected officials for increasing concentrations of two waste types below the Class A level now taken at the site: "mixed waste" containing hazardous and radioacti ve components and uranium and plutonium waste known as "Special Nuclear Materials."

Envirocare criticized him for "micromanaging" the business. Environmentalists criticized the final bill for allowing still more permit expansions without scrutiny by the governor and lawmakers. In compromising by drawing a line at the Class A hazard level , Urquhart pleased environmentalists by closing the loophole to even hotter wastes and appeased Envirocare by not subjecting its two pending license requests to formal votes.

Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, tried unsuccessfully to strip out a 10 percent tax on the mixed waste. "I would like all tax policy decided at the same time," said Hughes.