Tennessee lawmaker battles plan to import European nuclear waste to the South

We recently brought you the story of a plan being pushed by EnergySolutions Inc. to import nuclear waste from Italy to the South. The material from decommissioned reactors would be shipped in through the ports of Charleston, S.C. and New Orleans, with most of it recycled in Tennessee and the rest dumped in Utah, where the company is based.

But U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon of Tennessee says not so fast. The chair of the House Committee on Science and Technology, Gordon has asked the Northwest Interstate Compact for Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management to withhold its support for EnergySolutions' license application filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. According to a statement from Gordon:

"It appears that EnergySolutions' exploitation of a loophole in our country's nuclear waste regulatory framework and its agreement with the Compact could put the U.S. on a path to becoming the world's nuclear garbage waste dump. I refuse to believe this was the intention of the Compact when the 1998 approval was granted."

Gordon notes that the Compact allows EnergySolutions to take low-level radioactive waste from outside the Compact because it serves "an important national purpose." He points out that this marks the first time in the NRC's history that a company has asked to dispose of large amounts of foreign-generated LLRW in the United States -- and it doesn't appear to be a one-time event, since the publicly traded EnergySolutions has announced its plans to pursue decommissioning work in both the U.S. and Europe.