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EnergySolutions spokeswoman Jill Sigal took issue with my last column about her company.
“I’m telling you, you have a false statement in your column,” Sigal said.
Specifically, she challenged this line: “The company has been quietly preparing a spot for contaminated laundry residue from a reactor in Brazil.”
Sigal says that’s just not true. “It is absolutely false,” Sigal said.
EnergySolutions would be on the receiving end of a shipment of incinerated radioactive waste from Eastern Technologies of Ashford, Ala. Eastern applied for an import license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last July. The NRC notified the state, by e-mail, two months later. The only place the processed waste can go is EnergySolutions’ landfill in Clive.
When I pointed that out, Sigal said, “I’m not going to get in an argument with you.”
If we are to believe the Washington, D.C.-based spokeswoman, EnergySolutions sits back passively and waits for whatever nuclear waste is dumped in its lap. The Salt Lake City company won’t import the stuff. It hasn’t asked government regulators at the Northwest Compact to sign off (the company actually considers the compact irrelevant). That’s Eastern’s job.
“We knew nothing about it. The first I heard about it was in [The Salt Lake Tribune story],” Sigal said. “I don’t know anybody
at EnergySolutions who is preparing to take this waste
Forget that Sigal is leaving herself some wriggle room: There could be someone she doesn’t know at EnergySolutions preparing a spot for the foreign waste. The idea that a major corporation would have to find out from a newspaper where its next possible shipment is coming from seems ridiculous – or at least a reason for shareholders to sell their declining EnergySolutions stock.
“It’s their business model to take waste,” said Vanessa Pierce, director of the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah. “EnergySolutions is going to ask for whatever it can get. And it’s always going to want more.”
The company has pushed legislation to redefine its waste stream and double the size of its landfill. Now, after pledging not to dump the world’s radioactive junk in Tooele County, it seems EnergySolutions executives are trying to craft an image as victims of their own success.
Meantime, the NRC aids the charade by haphazardly informing Utah regulators as the mess comes in. They e-mailed about Brazil, but apparently failed to mention waste from Canada and Mexico long since buried in Clive.
Is this any way to handle the nation’s – and the world’s – low-level radioactive garbage?
Predictably, Tooele County politicians are OK with the way things are going. Tooele is a company town.
“What they did may have been a break of faith, but I believe it was within the scope of their license to do,” said Democratic legislator Jim Gowans in the Tooele Transcript Bulletin.
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who eventually wants to squeeze off EnergySolutions, is not so sanguine.
Huntsman spokeswoman Lisa Roskelley insists “the bugs have been worked out” with the NRC. The commission promises to notify the state in the future.
“The NRC has a clear understanding of the state’s position,” Roskelley said. “There are better lines of communication now.”
I feel so much better.