Washington, D.C.--Congressman Jim Matheson said today he’s encouraged by the news that the first shipment of thousands of metric tons of depleted uranium to Utah for disposal has been delayed.
According to a Department of Energy official in South Carolina , the 15,000 drums of depleted uranium (DU) originally slated to arrive this month from the Savannah River site, now won’t be shipped until December.
Last month, Matheson wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, asking that he temporarily suspend planned shipments from the agency’s DU stockpile to Utah , because of the controversy surrounding its current classification as Class A waste.
“Depleted uranium is materially different from all other Class A waste, in that Class A waste is supposed to decay to reasonably safe levels within 100 years, whereas the radioactive hazard from depleted uranium actually increases over time for tens of thousands of years,” Matheson’s letter states.
Matheson has also written to the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, asking questions about the Commission’s scientific basis for what Matheson said is the “mischaracterization of depleted uranium as Class A waste.”
“Scientists have pointed out that DU represents a massive quantity of radioactive material in highly concentrated form. It becomes increasingly radioactive and then stays that way for a million years. It only makes sense that rules for its disposal take that into account,” said Matheson. “I will continue to press this with DOE.”