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Envirocare rival denied permit

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Envirocare of Utah is the only game in town when it comes to low-level radioactive waste disposal. And it is likely to stay that way — at least for now.

The Tooele County Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday denied a request by Cedar Mountain Environmental for a temporary conditional use permit to construct a low-level radioactive waste facility on 480 acres next to Envirocare in remote Tooele County.

But it's far from over.

Charles Judd, president of Cedar Mountain Environmental, plans to move forward and win the Tooele County Commission's support, triggering a three-step political process. Judd still would need lawmakers' and the governor's approval after receiving the OK from state environmental regulators.

And the Utah Legislature has put a moratorium on proposals like Judd's to accept hazardous and radioactive waste until a task force completes a two-year study to determine what to do with the waste products finding their way to Utah. The task force intends to make a recommendation to the 2005 Legislature.

Still, Judd isn't giving up.

"We plan to go forward with the appeal (to the County Commission)," Judd said.

Judd, the ex-president of Envirocare, was disappointed but not too surprised his request was denied.

Envirocare has aggressively lobbied against Judd to open a competing business. Envirocare officials say there isn't enough low-level radioactive waste to make both companies profitable. And in the end, Tooele County would lose out on revenue it receives from the company.

Envirocare provides $5 million annually to Tooele County in gross receipts tax revenue, not including property taxes paid to the county.

Judd, however, says his company could bring an additional $2 million to the county coffers.

He plans to tap into the kind of waste that now go to such facilities as Texas, Idaho and Nevada. It would primarily be Class A waste — dirt that's slightly contaminated with radioactivity from government cleanup projects. But it would be lower in radioactivity than what Envirocare takes, Judd added.

"We believe the proposal we have for the county is a profitable proposal," Judd said. "We wish the competition wouldn't be so aggressive as to close down the discussion."

E-mail: donna@desnews.com