U.S. won’t fine company for spilling radioactive sludge in Utah
CHEYENNE, WYO.» The agency that regulates the U.S. nuclear industry will not fine a Canadian uranium mining company for twice spilling low-level radioactive sludge outside a Utah waste disposal facility, giving the company credit for efforts to prevent the problem from recurring.
Saskatoon, Canada-based Cameco faced a $35,000 fine from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Commission officials told Cameco they won’t seek a fine in part because the company plans in the future to store the barium sulfate sludge in bags within the trucks.
“However, significant violations in the future could result in a civil penalty,” NRC Deputy Regional Administrator Scott Morris wrote the company June 29.
Shipments of barium sulfate sludge from the Smith Ranch in-situ uranium mine and processing facility in northeast Wyoming will resume after the NRC has signed off on Cameco’s corrective measures, company spokesman Gord Struthers added.
The leaks happened in 2015 and 2016. Both times, low-level radioactive waste leaked from trucks from a Wyoming uranium processing facility.
Workers noticed the leaks after the trucks arrived outside Energy Fuels Resources’ White Mesa Mill waste disposal facility near Blanding, Utah. Subsequent testing found no elevated radiation along the roughly 600-mile shipment route through Wyoming, Colorado and Utah.
The sludge that spilled is a normal byproduct of insitu uranium mining.