What’s one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
When it comes to nuclear waste, where the government sees a problem, Salt Lake City-based EnergySolutions sees a dollar sign. And what’s best is that the government can’t stop them:
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it doesn’t have the authority to prevent foreign radioactive waste from being imported into the United States.
The NRC wrote in an April 9 letter to Reps. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) that the Atomic Energy Act doesn’t distinguish between domestic and foreign waste. The NRC says that as long as the material can be imported safely and someone is willing to accept it, the commission can’t keep it waste out.
Salt Lake City-based EnergySolutions is seeking a license to import up to 20,000 tons of low-level radioactive waste from Italy. After processing in Tennessee, about 1,600 tons would be disposed of in the western Utah desert.”
First and foremost, EnergySolutions is talking about low-level radioactive waste, not the high-level waste that comes out of the reactor. The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission defines low-level radioactive waste as items that have become contaminated with radioactive material or have become radioactive through exposure to neutron radiation. This waste typically consists of contaminated protective shoe covers and clothing, wiping rags, mops, filters, reactor water treatment residues, equipments and tools, luminous dials, medical tubes, swabs, injection needles, syringes, and laboratory animal carcasses and tissues.
There are three locations in the U.S. for low-level waste disposal: Barnwell, South Carolina, Richland, Washington and Clive, Utah. Facilities must meet NRC safety and regulatory standards. Disposal operations are carried out daily, and there is no justifiable reason to prohibit a company from capitalizing on a profitable business opportunity.
Nuclear waste, high-level or low-level, should be viewed as an opportunity for companies to develop safe, innovative and profitable disposition methods, not as a problem. Any problem that does exist with managing waste is not technical or scientific, but political. The problem arises when government gets in the way, but when left to the private sector, solutions tend to appear. Crazy how that works.