EnergySolutions is requesting exemption from a law that prohibits the amount of depleted uranium (DU) that can come into Utah. When laws governing the disposal of nuclear waste were developed in the 1980s, byproducts like DU weren’t yet considered. So how can EnergySolutions ensure the safety of future generations from hazards like DU?

Currently, there are limits on DU concentrations and masses allowed in Utah, and any shipments above the limit require safety evaluations. EnergySolutions hopes to exceed these limits by bringing in DU munitions. While EnergySolutions insists that DU is less of a hazard in this form, advocacy groups like HEAL Utah and Utah Sierra Club have raised legitimate concerns.
Most concerning is that DU becomes “hotter” over time. While it begins as a low-level waste, its radioactivity increases for thousands of years. EnergySolutions’ Clive disposal site, just off Interstate 80, is in a particularly vulnerable area, is subject to flooding and will look vastly different in even 100 years. It’s unsettling that EnergySolutions thinks it has the power, and knowledge, to evade the law for something this capricious and uncertain.
There is a public comment period Sept. 6-Oct. 6 regarding EnergySolutions’ exemption request.

Benjamin Silberman, Salt Lake City