Matheson says bill is still needed to set US policy banning foreign radioactive waste

December 1, 2010

Washington D.C. —Congressman Jim Matheson said today that a request to a federal agency from a Utah company to bring in radioactive waste from Germany is a reminder that the issue about the U.S becoming the home to foreign waste is unresolved.

"This underscores the need for my bill to prohibit the importation of foreign radioactive waste and not leave it up to individual business decisions," said Matheson. "There is still time for the Senate to pass HR 515 this year and set good public policy once and for all."

Matheson's statement is in response to a Utah company's request to import up to 1,000 tons of radioactive waste from Germany to its facility in Oak Ridge , Tennessee . The firm says it will incinerate the waste and package the leftover ash for shipment back to Germany . The import license request to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission triggers a public comment period during which written comments on the license request may be submitted to the NRC.

Matheson said that because the company cannot definitively show that foreign and domestic waste streams aren't mixed together during processing, foreign waste may still end up in domestic disposal sites, despite the company's contention that the waste is all being returned to the country of origin.

Matheson authored and passed –in the House—the Radioactive Import Deterrence (RID) Act—which bans the importation of foreign nuclear waste with narrow exceptions for defense or national security needs. He notes that 1980 federal law which set up disposal of radioactive waste by the states never anticipated that foreign countries would send their waste here for permanent disposal.


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