Montana Public Radio

Montana Council Delays Radioactive Waste Disposal Rules

Apr 28, 2020
Originally published on April 28, 2020 12:26 pm

A Montana legislative interim committee voted Apr. 27 to delay part of a controversial rule that sets guidelines for disposing radioactive oil waste.

Republican Senator Mike Lang of Malta requested the Montana Environmental Quality Council meeting over his concern that the state didn’t offer enough opportunity for public comment on new rules for disposing Technologically-Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials, or TENORM.

He said the state Department of Environmental Quality should have held a public hearing after it redrafted TENORM disposal regulations in January.

“I said well that just seems peculiar to me, and let’s investigate," Lang told the council.

These drafted regulations would be part of Montana’s first statewide regulatory guidelines for TENORM. It’s been a highly disputed, years-long process.

DEQ in 2019 proposed a gate limit of 200 picocuries per gram of radioactivity. The new draft released earlier this year lowers the maximum down to 50 picocuries and eliminates a rolling average of 50 picocuries.

DEQ said it’s been reviewing public comments and would have issued a final rule in May.

The Environmental Quality Council’s 10-6 vote to informally object to the drafted regulations triggers a six month delay.

The council will have to vote at its meeting in May to renew the informal objection for it to remain in effect.

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