TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder ordered a review Monday of state standards for disposing certain types of radioactive waste in landfills, responding to public anger over the disclosure that material generated in Pennsylvania but rejected for storage there would be shipped to Michigan.
The Department of Environmental Quality will convene a panel of experts to study Michigan rules for dealing with such waste that have been in place since 1996. The standards have drawn recent attention as a Wayne County landfill prepared to receive a shipment of Pennsylvania radioactive material produced through the controversial process of oil and gas production known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
"We believe the standard in Michigan remains protective of our people and our natural resources," Snyder said, "but this advisory group of diverse experts, similar to the assembly that developed our standards, can provide an important, science-based and current review to make sure that's still the case."
The panel will include experts in the fields of health, waste disposal, oil and gas production and other interests, he said.
The Republican governor's announcement didn't satisfy critics, including environmentalists and Democratic leaders, who called for a moratorium on shipments of such waste from elsewhere.
"The state's action in authorizing hazardous radioactive waste to be dumped here is utterly and completely incompatible with everything Pure Michigan should stand for," said Mark Schauer, Snyder's Democratic re-election opponent.
Mike Berkowitz, legislative director for the Sierra Club, said the study was "more about public relations than protecting Michigan's drinking water sources."
The Wayne Disposal landfill in suburban Detroit is one of 17 commercial hazardous waste disposal facilities nationwide and the only one in Michigan certified to dispose of "technologically enhanced normally occurring radioactive material," or TENORM. The term refers to rocks, soils and other substances with radiation levels that, because of human activities, are higher than levels occurring naturally in the environment.
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