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Clean Harbors pursuing nuclear waste option

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Despite a thumbs-down from county officials, Clean Harbors Environmental Services seeks state permission to dispose of nuclear waste at its landfill at Grassy Mountain, Tooele County.

The company is interested in disposing of Class A radioactive waste — the lowest hazard rating, and the only type that can be legally imported into Utah — at its landfill. Presently, the landfill handles hazardous but not radioactive waste.

The only radioactive waste facility licensed in Utah is that of EnergySolutions, formerly Envirocare, also in Tooele County.

On Friday, Tooele County officials notified the Utah Department of Environmental Quality's Radiation Control Board that the county ordinance does not allow new hazardous waste or low-level radioactive waste facilities.

County commissioners had amended the ordnance on Nov. 22, said Nicole Cline, the county's planning and economic development advisor.

Although Clean Harbors made a statement of interest on the subject to the state, she added, "we have of course local regulation on those types of facilities."

Phill Retallick, spokesman for Clean Harbors, said the company continues to explore the option of filing an application with the Utah DEQ to upgrade the Grassy Mountain landfill to handle Class A waste.

Asked if Clean Harbors is concerned about the county's position, he said, "No," and the project is a "multi-year process."

While there is presently a moratorium on new facilities, he said, the situation can change. Meanwhile, "We are not restricted from applying for the license with the state agency."

Clean Harbors had a preliminary meeting with the department last year, Retallick added. The purpose of the meeting was "to discuss the steps that need to be done."

Cline said the company has the right to pursue an application with state regulators, and the right to ask the county if it is willing to change its position.