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Health, Science & Environment

Radiation Board Acts to Correct "Gross Oversight" in Final Vote

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Matt Hobbs
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Flickr Creative Commons
Cat scans and other medical uses of radiation would be considered by a new advisory board, filling in a knowledge gap in the oversight role of a new consolidated waste board that was created by lawmakers earlier this year.

The panel that used to set Utah’s radiation control policies held its final meeting on Tuesday. And, as its last official act, the Utah Radiation Control Board created a new advisory panel to guide future decisions on cancer treatments, diagnostic tools and other medical uses of radiation.

The move addressed what the board chairman called a “gross oversight” by state lawmakers.

“Radiation use, especially in a medical environment, is very personal to every citizen,” said Board Chairman Peter Jenkins, a University of Utah health physicist.

He said lawmakers had focused on the concerns of the radioactive waste industry when they voted for agency consolidation. The legislature ordered the Radiation Control Division to be folded into the Solid and Hazardous Waste Division, and future oversight of all radiation issues will now be in the hands of a panel dominated by the waste industry.

Matt Pacenza, director of the environmental group HEAL Utah, called the final meeting the end of an era.

“I think this board over many years has been the public venue for debating and discussing the hot-button nuclear waste issues that Utah has battled with,” he said.

Still on the table: Whether EnergySolutions should be allowed to use its low-level radioactive waste site in Tooele County to bury large amounts of depleted uranium, an unusual kind of waste that gets hotter over time. That decision’s expected to be taken up by a consolidated waste management agency.

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