US company aims to treat Mexican radioactive waste

May 2, 2012, 8:45 PM

Associated Press

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) – A waste management company has applied to the federal government for a license to import up to 500 tons of radioactive waste from Mexico to south-central Washington, where the waste will be incinerated and the resulting ash returned to Mexico.

This isn’t the first application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to import foreign radioactive waste, but it’s among several recent proposals that have generated little opposition because the waste won’t be permanently stored in the U.S.

In 2009, a proposal to import thousands of tons of radioactive waste from Italy, treat it and ultimately store the remnants in Utah was abandoned following public outcry.

The latest application was filed April 3 by Atlanta-based Perma-Fix Environmental Solutions Inc. A public comment period on the application ends Thursday.

According to the application, the company would begin importing up to 500 tons of radioactively contaminated materials this year from Mexico’s Laguna Verde Nuclear Power Plant near Veracruz for incineration, and continue through March 31, 2017.

The company applied for a second application to export the resulting ash back to Mexico, and said no waste would be imported from Mexico until that country had approved a permit to import the resulting ash.

Applications to import foreign waste are unusual but not unprecedented, said David McIntyre, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The low-level waste in question generally involves protective clothing and tools that have some degree of contamination. Incinerating it reduces the volume and makes it easier to dispose of the waste.

The waste would cross the border in Laredo, Texas and travel by truck on interstate highways to the Perma-Fix facility in Richland, Wash., near the Hanford nuclear reservation, according to the application.

“It’s not particularly hazardous stuff,” McIntyre said. “They just don’t have the incineration capacity down there, whereas Perma-Fix is skilled at it and experienced at it.”

The commission is still awaiting comment from the executive branch of the federal government, which usually comes from the Commerce or State Departments.

The Northwest Interstate Compact on Low-Level Radioactive Waste, which monitors radioactive waste shipments for eight Western states, did not oppose the application.

A similar license was issued last year to Salt Lake City-based EnergySolutions to import low-level waste from a nuclear power plant in Germany for treatment and return the byproduct.

Radioactive materials are best managed as close to the site of generation as possible, said Tom Clements of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.

Ideally, Mexico should deal with its own nuclear waste and not send it to the U.S. for processing, he said.

“Importation of foreign radioactive waste into the U.S. sets a bad precedent and may well serve to discourage other countries from developing safe techniques to manage their own waste,” he said.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

Rock Creek Forest Elementary School students exit a diesel bus before attending school, Friday, Feb...

Associated Press

Demand for electric school buses finally starts to make headway

Electric school buses have been driving in California for nearly a decade but the demand for more across the country has been increasing.

2 hours ago

leap day...

Associated Press

How did leap day begin and why? A look by the numbers

How did leap year begin and why? A look at some of the numbers, history and lore behind the (not quite) every four-year phenom.

4 hours ago

Associated Press

AT&T will give $5 to customers hit by cellphone network outage

DALLAS (AP) — AT&T says it will give affected customers $5 each to compensate for last week’s cellphone network outage that left many without service for hours. The Dallas-based company said on its website that customers will get the $5 credit on their account within two billing cycles. The credit does not apply to AT&T […]

4 hours ago

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 23, 2024, in Washington...

Associated Press

Biden is summoning congressional leaders to the White House to talk Ukraine and government funding

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will convene the top four congressional leaders at the White House on Tuesday to press lawmakers on passing an emergency aid package for Ukraine and Israel, as well as averting a looming government shutdown next month, according to a White House official. The top four leaders include House Speaker […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Warm weather brings a taste of spring to central and western United States

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A warm front swept springlike weather across a large swath of the country Sunday in what is usually one of the coldest months of the year, sending people out of their homes to enjoy the rare winter respite but also bringing increased wildfire danger. In Omaha, Nebraska, the temperature Sunday broke […]

6 hours ago

A portion of UnitedHealth Group Inc.'s campus in Minnetonka, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)...

Tom Kuebel

Cyber attack on health insurance provider could prevent Arizonans from getting prescriptions

A cyber attack against Change Healthcare has prevented some patients from being able to fill prescriptions at local pharmacies.

6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

US company aims to treat Mexican radioactive waste