Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

August 28, 2012
Herbert’s pick has no place on radiation board

Once again, Gov. Herbert has stacked the deck against a healthier, cleaner, safer Utah. Herbert’s appointment of EnergySolutions’ Dan Shrum to the Radiation Control Board is yet another in a series of moves to ensure that Utah becomes an international dumping ground for thousands of tons of nuclear waste.

Shrum oversees regulatory compliance for his employer. It would be a great convenience for EnergySolutions to have a voice on the board that creates the regulations with which they have to comply. Instead of having to make a reasonable case to the Radiation Control Board for their self-serving actions, EnergySolutions can now simply have rules written that favor whatever they please. Can we actually believe Shrum will be an unbiased voice with respect to his employer? It’s too much to ask of anyone, regardless of his level of expertise or integrity.

This is no different from our federal regulatory system for banks, where the bankers make the rules. How’d that work out for us? Do we want the same system controlling materials that remain dangerous for thousands of years? Is it worth it for the few jobs and dollars it may bring to Tooele County?

I say no. Tooele County has become a county of war and waste. While I don’t think we’ll see the problems of the entrenched defense establishment here anytime soon, we don’t have to allow EnergySolutions’ square mile of hell to become more hellish. This county has more to offer than being another convenient trash can for our poor environmental choices. Our people and our land are better than that.

Nonetheless, Gov. Herbert has seen fit to reward one of his party’s most prolific supporters with the opportunity to write its own rules. The governor claims he had to appoint an EnergySolutions employee, as a representative of the radioactive waste management industry must sit on the board. This is nonsense. An industry seat on the Radiation Control Board has always been required, but since 1997, Utah governors wisely chose officials from companies without conflicts of interest such as Radiation Waste Management, US Ecology and AET Environmental. Most recently, Edd Johnson from Radiation Waste Management — an experienced industry professional — held the seat. Why won’t Governor Herbert appoint a similar individual who could competently represent the interests of the citizens instead of a failing but politically lucrative company?

The answer is obvious: Governor Herbert is tone deaf to anything but the siren song of the dirtiest, most destructive and dangerous industries on the planet. This is just an extension of his attack on all Utahns, recently exemplified by his ludicrous, borders-on-insanity call to defederalize public lands. Shrum’s appointment to the Radiation Control Board is wrong, and it must not stand.

Mike Abdo is a professional pilot who has lived in Tooele for 12 years.

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