The Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has proposed regulations to allow electric utilities to use fuel-cost clauses to recover gains or losses from trading Clean Air Act emission allowances....
Midwest Compact Kills Disposal Effort Centerior Asks "Why?"
Anatomy of a nuclear waste site death Centerior Energy is mystified. Until June 26, Ohio gladly was on its way to hosting a low-level radioactive waste disposal site. Then suddenly at a three-hour meeting, 13 years of planning crashed and burned.
On that day, the Midwest Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Commission voted to derail development of a low-level waste disposal facility in Ohio. The commission represents the Midwest Compact, which comprises Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. Thus, siting efforts were shut down not only in Ohio, but in all six states.
Michael J. Lumpe, spokesperson for Centerior Energy, questions why it happened. "It doesn't make sense, the actions are not supported by the reasons," Lumpe observed.
The project had won the blessing of Ohio Gov. George Voinovich, plus bipartisan support from the Ohio Legislature. In fact, in 1992, when Ohio had agreed to become the host, editorial writers from various newspapers had applauded the idea of a central facility in the Buckeye State to prevent the waste - mostly radioactive clothing, tools and lab supplies - from piling up at hundreds of nuclear plants, research labs and hospitals.
So what caused the project's demise? The official explanation cites increasing disposal costs, the cost of site development, declining waste disposal volumes and improved waste practices. Nevertheless, some want to know what the real reasons were.
Greg Larsen, executive director of the Midwest Compact, on June 26 urged the commission to reconsider its commitment to develop a regional facility. Larsen had cited a decision in a neighboring compact to delay the opening of a disposal facility in Illinois by nine years because of improved waste management practices and rising costs of disposal facilities. He noted that while individually those factors appeared insufficient to change course, when taken together they had convinced the compact to reconsider.
Larsen pointed out that between 1986 and 1995, waste disposal volumes had declined. Between 1986 and 1989, he noted, the national disposal volume averaged 1.7 million cubic feet, while between 1992 and 1995, the volume averaged 695,173 cubic feet - a 58-percent reduction.
Meanwhile, the commission on June 26 could count about $10 million in its Export Fee Fund. The money had been collected from utility ratepayers in the compact's member states to pay for site development. Larsen estimated that at the current rate of spending, the fund would become exhausted in about three years, when a new fee system would be required. Larsen anticipated resistance to imposition of a new fee, given the current availability of disposal access, moves toward utility deregulation, increasing cost estimates and a growing reluctance on the part of generators in other states to fund compacts.
Finally, Larsen pointed to the reopening of Barnwell, S.C., low-level radioactive waste disposal site, and disposal by Envirocare of a limited amount of waste in Clive, Utah. He said those sites presented possible alternatives for disposal.
Midwest Compact Votes
On June 26, the commission voted 5-0 to kill the project. Ohio abstained to protect its legal standing.
The vote cut off funding to the