Fines for violating Utah’s radiation regulations would double, under a proposal being considered by the Utah Radiation Control.
The new, higher fines were first suggested after a legislative audit last fall that found shortcomings in the state’s oversight and enforcement program for mishandling radioactive waste. They also follow violations at the EnergySolutions low-level radioactive waste disposal site that resulted in fines in 2011.
In that case, the company buried 23 barrels of waste containing waste with higher concentrations of radiation than the state allows at its Tooele County landfill. EnergySolutions and the companies that shipped the waste faced total penalties of $97,875 for the violations. But the high-radiation barrels were never dug up because of the estimated $2 million cost and because it would take two years to do it.
Under the new penalty categories, the maximum fine will now be $10,000 per violation, up from $5,000. The range of penalties is $500 apiece for minor violations to $10,000 for serious ones.
HB124 was sponsored by House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Ogden, to address last fall’s audit. A separate audit on radioactive waste taxes has not been addressed in legislation, but regulations giving the state more authority to review waste packages shipped to Utah are still under consideration.
Radiation officials will first circulate the proposal among the stakeholders affected by the regulations to get their input. Then the public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the formal proposal. The regulation is expected to be in place by the year’s end.