Department of Energy Agrees to Stop Future Depleted Uranium Shipments to Allow State to Enact Additional Safety Measures

SALT LAKE CITY – Governor Gary R. Herbert has negotiated a key compromise with the U.S. Department of Energy regarding the storage of depleted uranium in the State of Utah.

An initial shipment of approximately 3,500 tons of depleted uranium will soon arrive in Utah, but will not be buried until the State works with EnergySolutions to enact acceptable extra safety measures at the company’s waste storage facility in Clive, Utah.

Meantime, the Department of Energy will not send any additional shipments of depleted uranium to Utah until that process is complete. Specifically, the safety assessment will focus on depth, cover and radon detection at the site.

“This is a reasonable compromise on this issue, which is of paramount importance to the people of Utah,” Governor Herbert said. “We simply will not accept any more depleted uranium for storage in this state until we are convinced that we have addressed all the safety parameters.”

The agreement was reached Thursday afternoon during a phone call between Governor Herbert and Ines Triay, DOE’s Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management. Dr. Triay acknowledged the importance of the State of Utah completing its processes to understand and enact proper storage procedures.

“I appreciate the time and attention the Department of Energy has devoted to this matter,” the Governor said. “This is proof that by taking a measured, rational approach and engaging in conversations with stakeholders, we can reach agreements that are acceptable to all parties.

“This agreement allows the State to put into place extra safeguards to ensure the continued health and safety of all Utahns while the Radiation Control Board continues its study of this issue,” Governor Herbert said.

The state’s Radiation Control Board is engaged in a rule-making process that would require that a full performance assessment be completed before any additional depleted uranium is accepted for storage in Utah. The rule is currently in the public comment phase, and is expected to be voted on at the Board’s February meeting. If approved, the rule would go into effect March 1, 2010.

EnergySolutions has also recommitted to putting up a surety bond to cover any remediation of depleted uranium deemed necessary by future technical studies.

Late last week, the Department of Energy notified the State of its intention to ship up to 14,000 tons of depleted uranium from the department’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The material was expected to be shipped to Utah in several phases; Thursday’s agreement halts that process pending the State’s evaluation.

An inspector from the state’s Division of Radiation Control will be on site when the shipment arrives in Utah.