Thursday, May 8, 2008

Nuclear Waste From Italy. Is This Free Trade?

With the controversy regarding nuclear waste from Italy and the planned shipping and dumping in Utah some may wonder, once again, what benefits the U.S. is receiving from free trade.

Why would Italy suddenly need a dumping ground for its nuclear waste if their nuclear program was reportedly stopped in 1990?

"Italian nuclear power referendum, 1987
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Italian nuclear power referendum of November 1987, rejected expansion of the country's nuclear power industry by the construction of new nuclear power plants.

Voters were actually polled about three issues:
abolishing the statutes by which the Inter-ministries Committee for the Economical Programming (CIPE) could decide about the locations for nuclear plants, when the Regions did not so within the time stipulated by Law 393;
Abolishing rewards for municipalities in whose territories nuclear or coal plants were to be built;
Abolishing the statutes allowing Enel to take part in international agreements to build and manage nuclear plants.
Some commenter’s find that the questions were actually too technical for non-experts and were used to obtain popular consent after Chernobyl disaster in 1986.[1] [2]

Subsequently, the Italian government decided in 1988 to phase out existing plants. This led to the termination of work on the near-complete Montalto di Castro nuclear power station, and the early closure of Enrico Fermi Nuclear Power Plant and Caorso NPP, both of which closed in 1990. Italy's other two nuclear power plants had already closed prior to the decision, Alto Lazio NPP in 1982 and Latina NPP in December 1987."

While Italy has been decommissioning their Nuclear Power Plants, posted an article on January 17, 2008 stating that there may be a relaunch of nuclear energy in Italy.

"Debate on a relaunch of nuclear energy in Italy, banned 20 years ago in a referendum, got a boost in the past few days when it emerged that major utilities were to draft a plan to build nuclear power stations.

Italy, with scant energy resources, wants to diversify supplies and ease its 80-85 percent dependence on fuel imports. Various energy players and politicians call for a nuclear renaissance, but their appeals have fallen on deaf ears so far."


"Italy does not need a new referendum to lift the existing ban but the Economic Development Ministry would need to issue a decree -- which would later have to be passed as a law -- to scrap the moratorium, energy experts say."


"Opponents say there are no suitable sites in Italy for building new power stations and storing nuclear waste; the construction and decommissioning costs are too high and there is still a considerable risk of accidents. (Reporting by Svetlana Kovalyova, editing by Anthony Barker)"

In a report directed by the U.S. Department of Energy regarding the Yucca Mountain, Nevada disposal site, they specifically mention that more information is necessary to understand the effect the disposal would have on the groundwater flow, as well as additional information being necessary regarding the safety with transportation of the waste.

Additionally, a letter dated April 11, 2008, written to Dr. Garrick, the Chairman for the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board from Edward F. Sproat, III, Director of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management at the Department of Energy shows little regard for the concerns regarding the water and transportation issues.

Should this not be alarming to everyone in the United States? The nuclear waste is due to travel across multiple states, through many highly populated areas. Additional correspondence and documentation regarding these U.S. nuclear disposal issues can be found at

While researching the topic of dumping Italy's nuclear waste in Utah, I delved into the U.S. Department of Energy site for additional information. During this research, I have found no license agreement, location research, nor do I find Energy Solutions to be one of the contractors listed for this process.

Additionally, while researching the nuclear waste topic on, I clicked on the link for Italy, called "National Radioactive Waste Disposal Site Task Force", where I was promptly told,

The page cannot be found
The page you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable.


Please try the following:

If you typed the page address in the Address bar, make sure that it is spelled correctly.

Open the home page, and then look for links to the information you want.
Click the Back button to try another link.
HTTP 404 - File not found
Internet Information Services


The site they defered me to doesn't seem to show any indication of a relationship between Italy and the U.S. and the disposal of their nuclear waste.

EnergySolutions seems to think that, because it will make them more money, the risks for the citizens don't matter. In an article in the Salt Lake Tribune, dated May 7, 2008, the author states that

"...the company's multi-billion-dollar plan to import low-level radioactive materials from Italy's decommissioned nuclear power plants. Approximately 1,600 tons of the materials would be shipped across the country and buried in Utah after processing at an EnergySolutions' recycling facility in Tennessee."

The author also states that the eight-state Northwest Interstate Compact on Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management has the power to regulate the source of the waste dumped at Clive, the company's facility. Additionally, a defeat of the proposal is virtually assured.

However, "EnergySolutions officials claim that only the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission can regulate foreign waste imports. Company attorneys will argue that the compact does not have authority over the dump because it's a private commercial facility, that the compact's authority is pre-empted by federal statutes and regulations, and that the U.S. Constitution forbids the compact from discriminating between identical foreign and domestic materials. (The firm's predecessor, Envirocare of Utah, didn't have a problem recognizing the authority of the compact nearly 20 years ago when, with Utah's blessing, it sought and received the compact's permission to open the dump.)"

Note: I bolded "(The firm's predecessor, Envirocare of Utah, didn't have a problem recognizing the authority of the compact nearly 20 years ago when, with Utah's blessing, it sought and received the compact's permission to open the dump.)"

So, I proceeded to research by looking up the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. I clicked on the link to the EnergySolutions' Proposal and found it to be more troubling than the article in the Salt Lake Tribune. Not just 1600 tons would be imported. Here is a direct quote.

"EnergySolutions, based in Salt Lake City, is seeking a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to import up to approximately 20,000 tons (a total volume of up to approximately 1 million cubic feet) of various types of materials from decommissioned nuclear facilities in Italy. These materials would be primarily metals, wood, paper, plastic, liquids and ion-exchange resins that have various levels of radioactive contamination."

"EnergySolutions would process and recycle (as shielding blocks for use in nuclear facilities) most of the contaminated material at its facilities in Tennessee, in accordance with licenses issued by the state of Tennessee. The remaining waste would be sent to EnergySolutions’ low-level radioactive waste disposal facility in Clive, Utah, for disposal in accordance with its Utah license. The company has also applied for an export license, to return to Italy any waste that does not qualify for disposal at the Utah facility."

"NRC regulations require any company wishing to import or export low-level radioactive waste to apply for a specific license from the NRC. When considering these requests, the NRC reviews the applicant’s proposal to ensure that the waste would be handled in accordance with NRC regulations to protect public health and safety and the environment. For imports, the review considers whether an appropriate facility has agreed to accept the waste for management or disposal. Under the Low Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act, the states are responsible for regulating access to low-level radioactive waste disposal facilities. The NRC consults with Executive Branch agencies and all states that would be directly affected by the proposed import before deciding whether to grant the license."

"As part of its review of the license application, the NRC is seeking public comments and has offered members of the public the opportunity to request a hearing. The following information is provided to help answer questions about the EnergySolutions proposal for importing low-level waste from Italy."

The recorded Hearing Docket number 11005711, dated March 12, 2008, with attachments from Jamie L. Golliher with Energy Solutions includes ten (10) identical letters stating the following.

Date (hand-written by each signer)
Office of Secretary
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington DC 20555
Attn: Rulemaking and Adjudications

Docket No. 110057

Subject: EnergySolutions' license application to import Italian waste.

As an employee working at the EnergySolutions Bear Creek facility in Oak Ridge,
Tennessee, I am writing in strong support of the import license application. We have safely processed foreign materials at Bear Creek for at least the last 12 years. In fact, we are currently processing material from Canada that is very similar to the material we would process from Italy.

EnergySolutions' record of the safe handling of waste materials, meeting applicable license requirement, regulation, and state and federal law demonstrates its absolute commitment to environmental safety. The Bear Creek facility has received the National Safety Council's Perfect Record Award and is in the process of obtaining the Tennessee OSHA Voluntary Protection Programs Star status. I have no doubt in my mind that if the Commission grants the license application, EnergySolutions will continue meeting its high safety standards.

I strongly urge the Commission to approve the license request.


(each separately signed by the following individuals...Eric Niles, Randy S. Owensby, Mark West, Carl West, Becky Harwell (almost illegible), two others that are totally illegible, Tammy D. Payne, David Dyer, and Mathew C. Davis.)

Note: I bolded the section stating "We have safely processed foreign materials at Bear Creek for at least the last 12 years".

Regarding the status for their request for the license,

The NRC has requested the views of the states which license EnergySolutions operations (Tennessee and Utah), the low-level waste compacts in which these states are members (the Northwest and Southeast compacts), the Executive Branch and the public. The states of

Tennessee and Utah have informed the NRC that they have no technical objections to the proposed licenses. The public comment period and the time to request a hearing or petition to intervene expire on June 10, 2008.

For more information on import and export of radioactive material, please see

April 2008

Note: I bolded "The public comment period and the time to request a hearing or petition to intervene expire on June 10, 2008".

There is a location on this site for comments regarding this project.

Regarding the NorthWest Interstate Compact on Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management, here is what their site says they represent.

"NWIC was created in 1981, and consists of the member states: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. The NWIC was ratified by Congress in 1985. The eighth state, Wyoming, joined the Compact in March of 1992. The Compact is a cooperative effort of the party states to protect their citizens, and maintain and enhance economic viability, while sharing the responsibilities of low-level radioactive waste management."

"Disposal Options for Low-level Radioactive Waste Within NWIC
Low-level radioactive waste generated within the Northwest and Rocky Mountain Compacts may be disposed of at the commercial disposal site operated by US Ecology Inc. in Richland, Washington. Click on the links below:

For questions about Washington's Site Use Permits
To print out a Site Use Permit application
For state regulations regarding radioactive waste disposal
Out-of-region low-level radioactive waste that complies with the NWIC Third Amended Resolution and Order may be disposed of at the disposal site operated by Envirocare of Utah Inc. in Clive, Utah.

Send mail to our Web manager with questions or comments about this web site.

Last modified: May 2, 2008"

For those of you who are unaware, Envirocare is now EnergySolutions.

Here is part of the Third Amended Resolution and Order of the Northwest Interstate Compact, dated May 1, 2006 and signed by Lawrence Goldstein, Chair.

"3. While the Compact allows the above described wastes access to the licensed EnergySolutions facility in the Northwest Interstate Compact region, in accordance with Article V of the Compact, Utah retains the right to specifically approve each disposal arrangement before the waste is allowed access to the licensed EnergySolutions facility.

4. All federal and state environmental and other laws and regulations shall be complied with by the licensed EnergySolutions facility accepting the above referenced media or waste for treatment, storage, or disposal. The Compact has no authority and assumes no responsibility for the licensing and operation of the EnergySolutions facility.

5. It is the intent of the Committee that only those wastes approved by the compact of origin (including the Northwest Compact) be allowed. For states unaffiliated with a compact, state approval for export is required to the extent states can exercise such approval. This Resolution and Order shall constitute an arrangement under Article V of the Compact statute with any unaffiliated state or compact that approves waste for export to the EnergySolutions facility."

Note: I bolded "Utah retains the right to specifically approve each disposal arrangement before the waste is allowed access to the licensed EnergySolutions facility.", and "This Resolution and Order shall constitute an arrangement under Article V of the Compact statute with any unaffiliated state or compact that approves waste for export to the EnergySolutions facility.".

A public meeting was scheduled today May 8, 2008 for The Committee of the Northwest Interstate Compact regarding this very issue.

My question is that if this has been ratified by congress, doesn't this committee have the say regarding whether or not Utah permits the importation of this 20,000 tons of Italian nuclear waste regardless of what high horse EnergySolutions seem to think they are on?

Additionally, if we accept this waste from another foreign country, doesn't this open the flood gates for others to attempt to dump their waste in the United States?


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