SALT LAKE CITY - Planned shipments of depleted uranium from the U.S. Department of Energy's Savannah River Site will not be shipped to Utah under an agreement negotiated Monday by Governor Gary R. Herbert.
"This is a monumental win for the State of Utah," Governor Herbert said. "At one point, we were told these trains were all but on the tracks, making their way to Utah. The Department of Energy has now agreed, after we registered our concerns, that those trains will head elsewhere."
The Governor emphasized that, in addition to halting planned shipments, "the Department of Energy has agreed it will take back the depleted uranium it sent in December if we cannot implement disposal processes that ensure the long-term health and safety of all Utahns."
The Governor met Monday in Washington D.C. with Ines Triay, DOE's Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management. As a result of that hour-long meeting, the Department of Energy has agreed to divert two train loads of depleted uranium originally intended for storage at EnergySolutions' facility in Clive, Utah.
Additionally, a DOE representative will travel to Utah to address the state's Radiation Control Board and will work closely with state regulators to develop a site-specific performance assessment to determine if depleted uranium can be safely stored in the State of Utah. That process is expected to take up to two years.
The first DOE shipment of approximately 3,500 tons of material arrived in December from the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. It is being held in temporary storage until acceptable parameters for permanent storage are put in place.
If proper storage procedures cannot be achieved to the state's satisfaction, or if independent testing of the barrels reveals the waste exceeds Class A levels, the Department of Energy will immediately remove the depleted uranium from the state.
"The Department of Energy will be actively engaged in this process, and has committed to me, personally, that it will be responsible if the waste is not what it purports to be," Governor Herbert said. "I appreciate federal officials' time and attention to this matter and their understanding of its critical importance to the people of Utah."
The Governor's Office is currently working on a written document to memorialize the terms of the agreement.