By FAX and E-mail
June 24, 2002
The Honorable Hannah-Beth Jackson, Chair and Members,
Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814
Cal Rad Forum requests
a "no" vote on SB 1970

Dear Chairman Jackson and Members,

The California Radioactive Materials Management Forum* respectfully requests a "no" vote when Senate Bill 1970, as amended, is heard in committee on June 25. We would appreciate an opportunity to present our views on the bill at the hearing.

SB 1970 unnecessarily expands the scope of wastes that must be disposed of at a licensed low-level radioactive waste disposal facility. California has no such facility, ceased all work to develop such a facility in 1999, and legislation which has passed the Assembly (AB 2214) would delay by years or even make it impossible to develop a low-level radioactive waste disposal facility.

SB 1970 reflects perceived risk rather than scientific justification. The bill would require that waste materials with extremely low levels of radioactivity, specifically anything above background level must be disposed of at a licensed low-level radioactive waste disposal facility. Such materials, within the discretion of state regulators, could otherwise be safely disposed of at a hazardous waste disposal facility or a solid waste disposal facility.

There are presently only two states with facilities licensed to dispose of low-level radioactive waste that accept such waste from California and the other states of the Southwestern Compact: South Carolina and Utah. In 2008, use of the South Carolina facility will be restricted to the three states of the Atlantic Compact (South Carolina, New Jersey, and Connecticut). At that time, Utah will have a monopoly on the disposal of the low end of California’s radioactive waste stream (Class A waste). By expanding this waste stream, SB 1623 would increase California’s vulnerability to monopoly pricing. (On California’s present course, the high end waste Classes B and C will have no place to go when the South Carolina facility is out of the picture.)# A proposed ballot initiative in Utah will impose significant taxes on users of the Utah disposal facility.

SB 1970 reflects a view that very low, residual levels of radiation, i.e., anything above background, constitute a substantial risk to public health and safety. We respectfully disagree. A United States General Accounting Office report, "Radiation Standards," GAO/RCED-00-152, dated June 2000, finds:

"Conclusive evidence of radiation effects is lacking below a total of about 5,000 to 10,000 millirem, according to the scientific literature we examined and a consensus of scientists whose views we obtained."

Fiscal Impact

SB 1970 will have significant fiscal impact: State regulators will incur additional costs for increased time and analyses, extensive ongoing research to confirm "best available technology," ongoing training for inspection staff in ever-changing technology to confirm no exposure above background, and extensive changes in regulations. And all for no increased protection of the public health and safety. Surely, with competent regulation, there is a better way for California to handle these wastes than to send our slightly contaminated dirt to the only two licensed low-level radioactive waste disposal facilities in other states.

Cal Rad respectfully requests a "no" vote on SB 1970 on June 25.

Alan Pasternak

Attachment: List of organizations opposing SB 1970

cc: Senator Gloria Romero
Ms. Kari Dohn, Director of Policy, Governor’s Office
Richard Figueroa, Deputy Legislative Secretary
Michael B. Endicott, Principal Consultant, Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials
David Nunenkamp, Chief Consultant, Assembly Republican Caucus
Cal Rad Forum Corporate and Institutional Members

American College of Nuclear Physicians, California Chapter
Amersham Health
Amgen, Inc.
BioCom San Diego
The Boeing Company
California Council on Environmental and Economic Balance
California Health Care Association
California Healthcare Institute
California Radioactive Materials Management Forum
General Atomics
General Electric
ICN Biomedicals
Ligand Pharmaceuticals
National Association of Cancer Patients
Sorrento Electronics
Southern California Edison Company
United States Navy
Wyle Laboratories

Compiled by Cal Rad Forum
June 2002