EnergySolutions not true to its word

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Remember that "The Simpsons" episode where Homer gains so much weight he plugs the cooling tower? Hilarious stuff. Laugh out loud funny.

This joke EnergySolutions is playing on all of us - nuclear regulators, the governor and Utah residents? Not so funny.

Turns out, after promising they wouldn't take the world's waste and dump it in the west desert, EnergySolutions executives went right ahead and did just that. While we've all been focused on 20,000 tons of radioactive waste from Italy, the company has been quietly preparing a spot for contaminated laundry residue from a reactor in Brazil.

By the way, they've also taken nuclear waste from Taiwan, Britain, Germany, France, Canada and Mexico - after first blending it in Tennessee and Alabama to make it American.

They must figure radiation has gone to our heads, that we're all Homers, bumbling idiots who can be bought off by a few jobs in Tooele County, campaign donations on Capitol Hill and a sign on an NBA arena.

Seven years ago, the company (Envirocare of Utah before a new owner gave it a green-washing makeover as EnergySolutions) pledged not to turn Utah into the world's nuclear dumping ground. I have the letter to Bill Sinclair, Utah's Northwest Compact representative, right here:

"Envirocare has made the policy decision that it will not take out of the country wastes," wrote Ken Alkema, Envirocare senior vice president, on Aug. 15, 2001.

Now I'm looking at the full-page ad EnergySolutions CEO Steve Creamer took out in Sunday's paper. What a difference seven years makes. Before the blather about "life saving cancer treatments" and a "nuclear renaissance," I find the opening for another broken promise:

"EnergySolutions will not make Utah the world's dumping ground," Creamer writes.

He's offended by a political ad from Rep. Jim Matheson who says, "I want to stop them from making us the world's nuclear garbage dump."

Matheson and Tennessee Democratic Rep. Bart Gordon are sponsoring legislation to ban foreign waste from the United States. Matheson's anti-nuclear testing and dumping stance is one of the few courageous positions he's taken in Congress. And it distinguishes him from his Utah GOP colleagues: Rob Bishop and Chris Cannon.

Creamer says Utah's Democratic congressman is off-base. Just 5 percent of the Tooele landfill is reserved for international junk. He insists EnergySolutions is a fix for the country's energy crisis, global warming and national security. Essentially, it's our patriotic duty as Americans and citizens of the world to take one for the global team. Just in case we don't go along, the company has sued to force the issue and bypass regulators.

"Disposing of material at our Clive, Utah facility that was generated overseas and processed in the United States does not pose a health or safety risk," he says. "If by managing a small amount of Italian material we can help a country restart its nuclear power program, the world, including the United States, benefits."

That sounds good. But it's beside the point. Mixing radioactive concrete and dirt and fabric stateside doesn't change its country of origin. Safe or not, Clive would become the world's low-level radioactive landfill of first resort.

Call us Homers, but we're tired of getting dumped on.

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