City Weekly poked Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. in the eye this week for his inaction on a proposal to import Italian nuclear waste to Utah (See Hits & Misses). It turns out that as we went to press Junior was changing his mind.
EnergySolutions has asked to import 20,000 tons of dismantled Italian nuclear reactor parts, 1,600 tons of which are destined to be buried at EnergySolutions Tooele County landfill. Huntsman earlier took the position that, while he didn’t want the waste any more than the next guy, his hands were tied by an agreement he’d hammered out with ES last year.
That meant the waste was headed our way, since the federal government leaves decisions about radioactive waste up to states.
Today, Huntsman changed his mind, and asked a regional nuclear waste group—the Northwest Interstate Low-Level Waste Compact—to block the Italian imports. The compact regulates waste shipments inside the U.S.
The watchdog group HEAL Utah, longtime critic of EnergySolutions, praised Huntsman’s action in a press release:
"Governor Huntsman has pulled through for the people of Utah and lived up to his campaign pledge to prevent Utah from being the nation's—and now the world's—dumping ground," said Vanessa Pierce, Executive Director for the citizen advocacy group HEAL Utah. "Governor Huntsman's action today speaks volumes for his integrity, strength, and passion for protecting what we cherish about our state."
The group then goaded its favorite target:
"If EnergySolutions wants to pick a fight with our Governor, the people of Utah will be standing behind him every step of the way."
HEAL last week blasted the governor for not standing up to EnergySolutions.
Got to love politics. (Ted McDonough)