The Healthy Environmental Alliance of Utah filed an appeal of a decision the group fears could lead to Envirocare of Utah doubling the amount of land it uses to dispose of radioactive waste.
Envirocare, which is limited to disposing the least potent Class A radioactive waste in its Tooele County landfill, received preliminary approval last month from the Utah Radiation Control Board to expand its waste management onto 536 acres of land it owns adjacent to and to the north of its present operations. The company had acquired the land from Charles Judd, whose project was called Cedar Mountain Environmental. Final approval of any expansion is up to the Legislature and the governor.
In April, Envirocare unsuccessfully lobbied to have the expansion considered during a special session of the Legislature. But the control board's action makes legislative attention to the matter much more likely, said Jason Groenewold, director of HEAL.
"The regulators violated Utah regulations by not requiring the technical data to be submitted before granting approval," Groenewold said in a telephone interview. The administrative appeal calls for more information on the quantity of waste that would be brought in as well as the type of waste, its origins and "the schedule for developing disposal sites, and how disposal sites will be constructed."
He said when Cedar Mountain Environmental sought to use the land, Envirocare objected on grounds such as hydrological data is different from the Envirocare site, an aspect, it argued, that needed careful examination by state regulators, Groenewold said.
But when Envirocare bought out Judd and applied to expand on the new land, "state regulators did not require Envirocare to submit the technical data that Cedar Mountain Environmental would have had to submit," Groenewold added.
Tim Barney, Envirocare senior vice president, said a press release issued by Groenewold implied Envirocare was breaking its word not to ask for more from the Legislature. But from the start, he said, "we've been up front" about expansion. "We're not surprised," he said of the appeal. "We knew all along that he was likely to file an appeal."
He added that the company is not concerned about issues HEAL raised.
"We think DEQ (the Utah Division of Environmental Quality) has done a good job," Barney said. The state regulators have "done exactly what the laws and regulations require them to do."