U.S. Critics Hope to Halt Nuclear-Waste Imports

Utah firm wants Italian isotopes

3 min read

An American company's application to import 18 150 metric tons of low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) from Italy into the United States has set off a firestorm of controversy. In just four months, the proposal has elicited over 2000 comments on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Web site, a federal lawsuit, and a bill in the U.S. Congress that would ban the importation of all ”foreign-generated” low-level nuclear waste. Because the case touches on issues related to the Bush administration's plans for international radioactive materials trade, the outcome of this relatively small case could set a precedent with far-reaching consequences.

Last September, EnergySolutions, a nuclear waste treatment and disposal company based in Salt Lake City, filed an application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to import the low-level radioactive waste. LLRW is a definition by exclusion: it is anything that is not spent fuel and may include tools, radioactive lumber, steel, clothing, and concrete. Angered by the plan, Representative Bart Gordon (D.�Tenn.), chair of the House Science and Technology Committee, introduced a bill in March that would ban the Italian waste and any other foreign-generated LLRW. ”No other country in the world is accepting nuclear waste from other countries,” Gordon says. ”The United States is putting itself in a position to become the world's nuclear dumping ground.”

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

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