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In Our View: Stop nuclear waste via The Spectrum

Last week, EnergySolutions asked the State of Utah to put a hold on the approval process for its request to begin storing depleted uranium at the company’s Clive Landfill after concerns over the project were raised in a Department of Environmental Quality safety evaluation.

The safety evaluation listed eight unresolved concerns including a lack of deep time analysis.

Depleted uranium, the waste left over after enriched uranium has been used in nuclear reactors, actually becomes more radioactive over time. In fact, it takes about two million years for the material to reach its peak of radioactivity. That means any disposal solution for the waste needs to take into account any possible geological or glacial changes that may occur over the next two million years.

To put the amount of time in question into perspective, two million years ago, the homo genus had barely appeared on Earth. Homo habilis was the human ancestor that was walking the planet, homo erectus doesn’t appear in the fossil record until 1.8 million years ago. The first fossils of our species, homo sapiens, have been dated to around 200,000 years ago.

To attempt to dispose of material that will continue to become more radioactive for a period of time that is 10 times longer than our species has existed on the planet is a staggering task.

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We have an extensive history with nuclear radioactivity. Many of our citizens are still suffering from the impacts of being downwind of the nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and ‘60s at the Nevada Test Site.

We were lied to back then — told we were perfectly safe. We were not.

Since then, we have been and continue to be rightfully distrustful when it comes to issues involving radioactivity in this state.

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