Envirocare Looking to Expand its Operation
Envirocare of Utah is seeking permission to expand its operations onto 536 acres of land it purchased from a potential competitor when the business changed hands two months ago.
The low-level radioactive waste company is requesting a change in its state permit in order to build new waste handling facilities, a rail line, an administration building and a disposal cell.
Envirocare spokesman Mark Walker on Wednesday said the company needs to upgrade the aging rail line and "rollover," the part of the rail line where the waste is emptied from train cars. The company also needs a new crusher for waste compaction and a shredder. Building a new administration building will allow the current building to be used for other administrative purposes, he said.
Critics quickly seized on the expansion plans, sending out e-mails calling the permit-change request an attempt to "supersize" the facility 80 miles northwest of Salt Lake City.
"It hasn't even been two months since the new owners of Envirocare took over the controversial radioactive waste dump and they are already seeking to double the size of the landfill," said Jason Groenewold, director of the environmental advocacy group Healthy Environment Alliance Utah.
"They are treating the rail expansion as a Trojan horse to get the approval for waste disposal. Once they get legislative approval, they could begin taking waste," Groenewold said. The expansion would add 35 to 50 years of disposal operations to the landfill, he said.
Walker agreed that the waste operation could expand into the acreage Envirocare's new owners purchased from former Envirocare President Charles Judd. "But right now that's not what it would be used for," Walker said.
The original acreage allows the facility to operate another 17 to 20 years without expanding onto the new property, he said.
Envirocare Chief Executive Steve Creamer and two investment firms bought the 543-acre waste facility from Khosrow Semnani in December. The sale closed Jan 31. At that time, the new owners announced they had bought out Judd, who had said he would not pursue bringing in more radioactive waste than the state currently allows.
At that time, Envirocare's new owners announced they would give up their regulatory permit to accept the hotter so-called B and C waste. A law banning the waste has since gone into effect.
Walker said Envirocare is crafting a restrictive deed that would prohibit B and C waste and spent nuclear fuel rods from ever being disposed at the facility.
"That was something Jason [Groenewold] asked for. We said we'd look into it," Walker said. "We're in the process of doing it."
Walker said the additional acreage also needs to be brought in under the Envirocare permit so it can be included in the facility's closure and post-closure surety required by the state.
Under state law, the expansion proposal must receive approval from Tooele County, the Legislature and the governor. Some legislators are pushing to have the matter considered at the April 20 special session.
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