(KCPW News) Governor Gary Herbert wants to stop the Department of Energy from sending the first shipment of 3,500 tons of depleted uranium to Utah. This morning, he sent a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, asking that the shipment from the Savannah River site be halted immediately while the state’s Radiation Control Board continues to discuss the requirements for storing depleted uranium. Angie Welling, the governor’s spokeswoman, says Herbert doesn’t want the state’s regulators to be circumvented.
“He’s interested also in protecting our important state processes. He’s concerned that this decision to ship this material now is circumventing the rulemaking process which is already well underway,” she told KCPW.
EnergySolutions’ wants to accept up to 14,000 tons of depleted uranium from South Carolina at its facility in Clive, 75 miles west of Salt Lake City.
Environmentalists have previously called on the governor to take action in order to stop the depleted uranium from entering the state. But Welling says Herbert didn’t want to make a hasty decision.
“We weren’t notified of the shipment coming from South Carolina until late last week, Thursday evening,” said Welling. “And Governor Herbert, as this is such a technical issue, and it is a complicated issue, his interest is not in some sort of knee-jerk reaction, he wanted to take some time, get appropriate briefings from the experts on this matter.”
Although depleted uranium is classified as low-level waste, it becomes more radioactive over time. In October, the state’s Radiation Control Board voted to require EnergySolutions to complete a performance review of its Tooele County storage facility before taking more depleted uranium.