MT Lawmakers Pause Radioactive Waste Limits, Draw Public Ire
Friday, May 22, 2020
HELENA, Mont. - Lawmakers could sideline Montana's radioactive waste disposal rules from oil and gas industries next week, despite public opposition.
The Legislative Environmental Quality Council voted to delay Department of Environmental Quality limits last month, and could make that decision final at its May 27 meeting. The rules were aimed at limiting radioactive waste materials at landfills.
Seth Newton is a rancher in Glendive, and a spokesman for and member of the Northern Plains Resource Council. He lives near the only waste site permitted for radioactive material in Montana so far.
"We just want to know what's going on and know it's done right, and the contents that's being put in there will stay in there," says Newton. "They're being put there to be managed safely, indefinitely."
Debate over the waste limit has gone on for years. State Sen. Mike Lang, R-Malta, called the Environmental Quality Council meeting in April when he said the council hadn't been able to scrutinize the latest proposal.
In the initial 2017 draft, the state proposed a limit of 50 picocuries of radiation per gram, the same limit as North Dakota and other oil-producing states. In 2019, DEQ proposed quadrupling the limit to 200 picocuries, sparking public outrage.
Early this year, the agency reverted to its original proposal. Newton says the landfill near his ranch is proof that states will dump their waste in Montana without rules in place.
"It needs to be adhered to, or we're just going to be known as the radioactive destination," says Newton. "If the limit's set at 200, that's going to be what you get in the dump."
Oaks Disposal has accepted 450,000 tons of waste at the site - and nearly three-quarters is from North Dakota, according to Northern Plains.
Newtown says limits also are important for Montana's future.
"Just trying to make the best of it and leave a legacy that future generations can actually live with," says Newton.
Northern Plains is spearheading a letter-writing campaign to Environmental Quality Council members ahead of the Wednesday meeting.
get more stories like this via email
College presidents testified before a congressional committee Tuesday on the rise of antisemitism on college campuses since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led …
There are some bright spots in beefing up local news coverage, but a new report says in North Dakota and elsewhere, there are still big concerns …
Health and Wellness
Holiday stress is a concern for most people, but when you mix in travel plans and chronic health issues, those worries might be elevated. A …
A new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finds the repayment process for federal student loans has been filled with errors…
More than 3,500 foster children are available for adoption in Ohio, and state agencies are connecting with local faith congregations to help recruit …
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife just announced a marine warden discovered an endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle dead, drowned …
Health and Wellness
The state's largest county has just opened the new CARE Court system, designed to get help for severely mentally ill people in Los Angeles. CARE …
A Knoxville-based environmental group is voicing health and safety concerns about the development of a landfill for radioactive waste from the Y12 Ura…