This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The soon-to-be-defunct Radiation Control Board handed EnergySolutions a nicely wrapped gift at its final meeting this past week. Its members declined to arrive at wording for a ban on blended radioactive waste. That failure will allow the hazardous-waste disposal company to accept 40,000 cubic feet of blended waste each year while regulators study the site to determine if such waste disposal is safe.
The board is being dissolved along with four other environmental boards as a result of misguided legislation sponsored by Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, and passed by the Legislature this year. In one of its final actions, the radiation board declined to vote on regulations proposed by a Utah health advocacy group.
The Healthy Environmental Alliance, called HEAL Utah, has been pushing for regulations that would prohibit waste that is too hot to be allowed under Utah law but has been blended with less-hot waste in order to meet the standard. The board earlier approved a position statement opposing the practice of waste blending when the intent was to circumvent the state ban on hotter nuclear waste. Despite the board's opposition, DEQ regulators approved EnergySolutions' proposal.
HEAL officials were told at the final board meeting that it was too late to take up the issue.
That decision makes Dayton's legislation even more troublesome for Utahns long-term, because the smaller board expected to be seated this fall will have fewer health experts who are more interested in public health than in protecting EnergySolutions' bottom line but the same number of industry representatives.
The Legislature changed the makeup and diluted the authority of Utah's citizen environmental boards in favor of polluting industries and people who are supported by them. Dayton's bill was written by the Utah Mining Association and Utah Manufacturing Association, which gave $86,000 to candidates during the past four years.
Dayton outrageously said she believes the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which protects Americans from chemical pollution in air, water and land, is illegal. And she said any environmental protections should reflect "Utah values," which is GOP code for putting business and political interests ahead of health concerns.
Dayton's bill removes the boards' authority to adjudicate appeals of permit decisions and other rulings.
It's not surprising the doomed radiation board has given up the fight.