Fight over Italian Radioactive Waste Imports Headed for Court

Date: January 13, 2010

Source: News Room

EnergySolutions attorneys will argue this week before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that its low-level radioactive waste facility in Clive, UT is not subject to regulation under the multi-state Northwest Compact. At issue is the May 2009 ruling by federal Judge Ted Stewart and the state's subsequent appeal that EnergySolutions' facility is not a "regional" disposal facility and thus is not subject to the compact's desire to restrict the type of non-regional waste that is received. The issue came to the fore in 2008 when EnergySolutions applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for permission to import 20,000 tons (1 million cubic feet) of various materials from decommissioned nuclear facilities in Italy

Federal legislation set up multiple regional compacts in the mid 1980s to allow states a way to manage and store low-level radioactive waste generated within compacts' boundaries. "The compact system was intended to be a solution to the serious low-level radioactive waste disposal problems that existed in the 1970s," according to arguments filed in the case.

EnergySolutions counters that compacts correctly have authority to regulate "regional disposal facilities" within their boundaries, but the legislation was never intended to exercise such broad authority over a privately owned facility established after passage of the law. And, the Northwest Compact has never treated the Clive facility as a "regional disposal facility" and has "without objection from the compact consistently received (low-level radioactive waste) generated outside the compact region," according to documents.

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