SALT LAKE CITY, Nov. 8 (UPI) — U.S. nuclear regulators owe Utah a policy change and an apology for their handling of nuclear waste, scientists say.
Two geologists and a climatologist say the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is wrong in deeming depleted uranium safe for surface and shallow burial disposal, the Salt Lake Tribune reported Saturday.
Almost 50,000 tons of uranium are already stored in shallow landfills in Tooele County, east of Salt Lake City. The scientists say that site is underwater a few hundred of every thousand years. The waste remains hazardous for 1 million years, they warn, and wet cycles could spread the long-lived material across the entire Great Salt Lake basin.
A lack of deep, underground disposal sites is “clearly driving” the NRC’s decision to allow surface disposal, the scientists charge, and they accuse regulators of “a programmatic failure” to plan for proper disposal deep underground, the Tribune reported.
The NRC will will consider the scientists’ comments as part of an in-depth review, agency spokesman David McIntyre said. But, the agency won’t approve any more depleted uranium disposal in Utah “if we don’t think it’s safe,” he said.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International