Washington, D.C.--Congressman Jim Matheson said today he’s been notified by the Department of Energy (DOE) that it will soon begin shipments of 15,000 drums of depleted uranium by rail to Utah for disposal at Clive. Matheson had urged the DOE to temporarily suspend the action while scientists considered health and safety rules for the radioactive waste’s long term storage.
Depleted uranium is the man-made byproduct of the enrichment of natural uranium in nuclear reactors. As it decays, depleted uranium actually becomes “hotter”, remaining dangerous for tens of thousands of years.
“I am very disappointed that this material is headed to Utah , despite my concerns. I will continue to press the NRC for an appropriate review of necessary safety standards for this waste, which essentially remains hazardous forever,” said Matheson.
Matheson had written to Energy Secretary Chu this fall, highlighting a controversial split decision by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to designate large amounts of DU as Class A low-level waste. DOE maintains a vast stockpile of depleted uranium and as part of ongoing site cleanup efforts, is seeking permanent disposal for the waste, including the 15,000 drums from the Savannah River site in South Carolina.