The Box Elder County Commission told a Salt Lake man that unless county residents and the governor approve, his proposal to build a nuclear waste storage facility won't fly.
And Commission Chairman Lee Allen said he'd be surprised if Gov. Mike Leavitt changed his mind about nuclear waste."Go to the governor. Find out how he feels about this thing," Allen advised Bill Peterson, a Salt Lake engineer, during a hearing on his proposal Monday.
Peterson wants to build a quarter-square-mile system of rail tracks and bridge cranes several miles east of Lucin on ground that would be purchased from Southern Pacific Railroad.
The cranes would take spent nuclear rods housed in steel and lead cylinders from trains and place them vertically in concrete storage units that would be fenced and monitored. The waste would never be lifted more than 18 inches above the ground, Peterson said, and it is spent to such an extent that it needs only air to cool it.
The county could get $10 million, and the state an additional $40 million, to store the waste, Peterson said. He said his plan is safer than proposals before Congress in which nuclear waste would be shipped by rail all the way down the Wasatch Front to a storage facility in Nevada.
"Right now the governor has a very high national profile, and this is a very high-profile national problem," Peterson said. "The governor would be wise to deal with it on a rational basis."
Leavitt's press secretary, Vicki Varela, said Tuesday the governor had received little information about Peterson's proposal.
"However, the governor's taken a strong position that he doesn't want Utah to be a place where nuclear waste is stored," Varela said. "We don't have any information at this point that would change the governor's position."
County commissioners were interested in the potential $10 million per year, which is $2 million more than the county's entire annual budget. But without support from county residents and the governor, they told Peterson, the idea wouldn't have a chance.
Lynn Yeates, chief deputy at the Box Elder County Sheriff's Department, said Tuesday that the area surrounding the proposed site is not as remote as it seems.