MT Lawmakers Pause Radioactive Waste Limits, Draw Public Ire
Friday, May 22, 2020
HELENA, Mont. - Lawmakers could sideline Montana's radioactive waste disposal rules from oil and gas industries next week, despite public opposition.
The Legislative Environmental Quality Council voted to delay Department of Environmental Quality limits last month, and could make that decision final at its May 27 meeting. The rules were aimed at limiting radioactive waste materials at landfills.
Seth Newton is a rancher in Glendive, and a spokesman for and member of the Northern Plains Resource Council. He lives near the only waste site permitted for radioactive material in Montana so far.
"We just want to know what's going on and know it's done right, and the contents that's being put in there will stay in there," says Newton. "They're being put there to be managed safely, indefinitely."
Debate over the waste limit has gone on for years. State Sen. Mike Lang, R-Malta, called the Environmental Quality Council meeting in April when he said the council hadn't been able to scrutinize the latest proposal.
In the initial 2017 draft, the state proposed a limit of 50 picocuries of radiation per gram, the same limit as North Dakota and other oil-producing states. In 2019, DEQ proposed quadrupling the limit to 200 picocuries, sparking public outrage.
Early this year, the agency reverted to its original proposal. Newton says the landfill near his ranch is proof that states will dump their waste in Montana without rules in place.
"It needs to be adhered to, or we're just going to be known as the radioactive destination," says Newton. "If the limit's set at 200, that's going to be what you get in the dump."
Oaks Disposal has accepted 450,000 tons of waste at the site - and nearly three-quarters is from North Dakota, according to Northern Plains.
Newtown says limits also are important for Montana's future.
"Just trying to make the best of it and leave a legacy that future generations can actually live with," says Newton.
Northern Plains is spearheading a letter-writing campaign to Environmental Quality Council members ahead of the Wednesday meeting.
get more stories like this via email
Many of California's 13.5 million children and teens have not bounced back after the pandemic, especially children of color, according to the just-…
Americans continue to report low trust in mainstream media, with many younger than 30 saying they trust information from social media nearly as much …
A Minnesota House committee heard testimony Thursday about the governor's proposed spending plan for education. As these talks unfold, public polling …
Health and Wellness
Health-care professionals say low pay and a worker shortage have led a dramatic number of nursing homes in rural Iowa to close their doors. They hope …
Health and Wellness
Health-care professionals and advocates in Connecticut have said it will take sweeping reforms to bolster the state's flailing public health system…
In her fifth State of the State address this week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer emphasized policies designed to put more money in Michiganders' pockets…
By nearly every measure, voter fraud in U.S. elections is rare, but that isn't stopping the Texas Legislature from considering dozens of bills this …
A Republican-sponsored bill in the Arkansas Legislature would make it illegal to circulate petitions at or near polling places during elections…