E-mail letter to the Los Angeles Times editor

Published January 28, 2002

The editorial headlined “If it’s ‘hot,’ it’s not just trash” which appeared on January 22, 2002, discussed matters of concern to the Southwestern Low-Level Radioactive Waste Commission. The Commission is the governing body which represents the states of Arizona, California, North Dakota, and South Dakota under Public Law 100-712. The law requires the State of California to dispose of radioactive waste from hospitals, universities, governmental agencies, utilities and industry in the four states. A license was issued in 1993 (and is still in effect) for a disposal facility in Ward Valley, but it was never constructed not because of concerns about safety but because of political issues. The editorial points out that waste is now being shipped to facilities in Utah and South Carolina and asks “Why not keep using them?” The answer lies in the fact that the South Carolina facility is phasing out of accepting waste from states outside of its own compact members and will no longer take waste from the Southwestern region after 2008, and that the State of Utah is not likely to want to be known as the only state in the nation where low-level waste can go. It was precisely that concern that caused the States of Nevada, Washington, and South Carolina to close their facilities two decades ago. Unless California acts to open a disposal facility it, and its compact partners, may not have any option but to store waste at the hundreds of places where it is generated.


Dana K. Mount, Chairman
Southwestern Low Level Radioactive Waste Commission
Bismarck, North Dakota 58506-55201200 Missouri Avenue
Phone: 701-328-5202