Here’s the scenario. You’re a young boy living in southern Utah, not far from Nevada’s atomic testing grounds. The mushroom clouds that rose in the sky were fascinating to see, as was the greenish tint that hung in the western sky for weeks. As your family drives from your home along the road to Zion National Park, you notice state troopers warning drivers to roll up their car windows, even when it was quite warm, and you wondered why.
Audio Here: utah-nuclear.mp3
Years later, your father dies of lymphoma, and you realize it may have been the result of breathing that green air from the atomic testing range. And you finally understand why the state troopers warned motorists about the dirty air.
Mindful of the legacy left by the atomic tests in Nevada, the obvious dangers of radiation, you decide to become chairman and CEO of a company that brings nuclear waste into your home state from Tennessee, South Carolina, the United Kingdom and now, quite possibly Italy.
Your reason, as quoted in the Deseret News, “My dad died at the same age I am right now: 56, my mother and my family will always believe that we were affected by the ‘downwinders’, and what we’re trying to do is keep that from happening again. What we do is clean up things like that, we handle them safely, we transport them safely.”
A lot of Utah residents are really quite unhappy with this native son, Steve Creamer. He works at a nuclear waste facility in Clive, Utah, about 70 miles due west of Salt Lake City, as a matter of fact, he’s chairman and CEO of the firm, EnergySolutions. The company, formerly Envirocare, and handles more than 95 percent of all commercial low-level radioactive waste in the country, and is looking to expand.
If the latest deal goes through, waste from Italy, about 20,000 tons, will arrive by ship and then will be transported across country by train.
But it isn’t all about burying waste somewhere in a pit. Creamer says the company takes depleted uranium waste from various countries to it’s MSC Oak Ridge, TN site. The uranium is melted down, formed into small casks and re-sold to Tyco Energy for use in transporting radioactive isotopes for chemotherapy and for radiation treatment to hospitals.
The Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah, or HEAL, questions Creamer’s commitment to the welfare of Utah. It’s director, Vanessa Pierce, is quoted as saying; “what started out as an illegally licensed nuclear-waste dump, Creamer is building into the world’s largest nuclear trash company and is opening Utah’s doors to the world’s waste.”
Here’s the paradox, in Creamers own words, “What we’re doing today is something that will affect the lives of future generations,” he says. “I was born here, raised here, never lived a day outside the state of Utah. I want people to know I am concerned about the community, I’m concerned about the environment, and they have my commitment that what we do, we’ll do safely, and we’ll do it to protect our environment, not to hurt our environment.” And yet, his own family was a victim of radiation, as were many of his neighbors, maybe even himself, yet he wants to bring thousands of tons of radioactive waste into his beloved, and beautiful state.
Well, it’s the same old story, every thing’s gotta be somewhere, and it looks like Utah is going to be a world-class low-level nuclear waste dump.
Interesting that a private company can seem to do what the feds can’t, develop a repository for nuclear waste. I suppose that’s just another example of your tax dollars at work.
Photo of Steve Creamer: August Miller, Deseret News
Do you know of an incident where the waste from a nuclear power plant has ever caused harm?
I guess if it has to be done — better by someone who cares or at least appears to be mindful of what he’s doing? Glad I don’t live in Utah. 😉