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Midwest Compact Kills Disposal Effort Centerior Asks "Why?"

Fortnightly Magazine - September 1 1997

Ohio Low-Level Radioactive Waste Facility Development Authority, which had been created to oversee facility siting and construction. However, the Midwest Compact Commission still remains alive in a "wait and see" mode.

Centerior Energy, the largest generator in the Midwest Compact, voiced extreme disappointment with the decision. Theodore J. Myers, director of nuclear support services at Centerior Energy, at the June 26 meeting had expressed disbelief over Larsen's reasons for reconsideration of a complex, long-term project. "Even with the three stated reasons, the elusion is to future, dire outcomes rather than a serious evaluation of information, and experienced, professional input on options or actions to be taken to avoid the implied conclusion," Myers said.

Myers later pointed out that while it had taken nearly five years for Ohio to obtain the political will to start the process, the whole thing had ended in three hours, with no real public or utility generator input. "Why would I start it up again?" Myers asked. It's "devastating," he said, and predicted that the vote "shut the door on any siting in the future." He said Ohio now distrusts the other compact states.

According to Michael Lumpe, the vote came out of left field. Lumpe believes "there is one person with the answers to this and that's Greg Larsen, and he's sticking to his published reasons and won't give additional ones." Myers agreed. "No true evaluation would have come up with these reasons," he said.

Historical Perspective

Enacted in 1980, the Low Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act made the states responsible for low-level radioactive waste disposal, but allowed multistate compacts to build regional disposal facilities to cut down on the number of sites. Formed in 1984, the Midwest Compact originally had included Michigan. As the region's largest contributor of radioactive waste from electric generation, medical facilities and universities, Michigan was designated host state to take the waste from the other compact states for 20 years. Eventually, however, the other states removed Michigan from the compact for its failure to move on designating a site. Ohio then accepted the job as host in 1992.

That year, three states took low-level waste - Nevada, South Carolina and Washington. But Richland, Nev., and Beatty, Wash., later closed their sites to outsiders, leaving Barnwell, S.C. with the monopoly. Barnwell briefly closed to outside waste in 1994.

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