Energy Solutions rethinks on waste imports

Monday, July 19, 2010

Energy Solutions is adopting a new international business strategy whereby, rather than importing foreign radioactive waste for processing and disposal at its US facility, it will help overseas customers dispose of such waste in their own country.

The company - which has faced strong opposition to its plan to import waste from decommissioned nuclear facilities in Italy for processing and recycling at its facility in Clive, Utah - said that under the new strategy, no internationally generated radioactive waste would be disposed of at the site.

Instead, the company said it "is focusing on the long-term strategic interests of its international customers, by providing a wide range of engineering and technical services to facilitate final in-country disposition of these materials."

Val Christensen, president and CEO of Energy Solutions, said: "As a new executive management team, we have revisited our international strategy and are focusing on developing the greatest long-term value proposition for our international customers."

He added, "We have determined that we can best serve our international customers by exporting our skills and technologies and building longer term relationships to assist them in developing their own local facilities and capabilities, rather than pursuing a short-term disposal solution at the company's Clive, Utah facility."

Christensen noted that Energy Solutions' facilities and operations will be used as models for developing safe and efficient long-term disposal operations in countries where low-level radioactive materials are generated. "The company's Clive, Utah and Oak Ridge, Tennessee facilities will be reference sites for building international customer confidence in safe and environmentally sustainable long-term management of low-level radioactive materials," he said.

In March, Energy Solutions announced that it had been selected by China Guangdong Nuclear Power Co (CGNPC) to provide waste management systems to two CPR1000 reactors under construction at the Yangjiang site in Guangdong province. The contract is for the design and supply of a liquid waste processing system, together with solid waste systems.

Italian plan
Energy Solutions had been awarded a contract to dispose of 20,000 tonnes of low-level nuclear waste (LLW) resulting from the dismantling of nuclear power plants in Italy. One-third of the waste is metal which would have been extracted for recycle into radiation shielding blocks for export to Japanese customers - the rest would comprise things like papers, resins and clothes.

The processing was to take place at Bear Creek, Tennessee, while the remainder that could not be recycled would have be crushed to 0.5% of its normal size and stored alongside similar US wastes at Energy Solutions' facility in Clive. The company had said this would be a "small residual amount."

The concept of radioactive waste from overseas being stored indefinitely at Energy Solutions' Clive disposal facility angered administrators and politicians in eight US states and led to a lawsuit. It led to the US House of Representatives passing abill banning the import of foreign nuclear waste.

A heated dispute also emerged between Energy Solutions and the Northwest Interstate Compact, which regulates certain LLW disposal activities in the sates of Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington. The Compact, along with the state of Utah, had objected to space at Clive being taken by wastes from abroad, saying such practices would reduce the availability of disposal space for the states.

Under Energy Solutions new international business strategy, the company may now seek to help Italy dispose of this waste within its own territory.

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