Limited Operations Authorized at US Ecology Waste Site Following Explosion

On February 7, 2019, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) authorized US Ecology to restart some operations at a waste facility following a November 2018 explosion that killed one worker and injured eight others.

The following day, US Ecology Idaho received a number of shipments.  According to the company, additional shipments are expected shortly.  In addition, some FUSRAP waste remains in rail cars awaiting disposal, while other waste is currently onsite that meets the disposal criteria, according to US Ecology officials.

US Ecology plans to resume drum processing, waste treatment and other waste management services in the future, although the dates therefore remain unspecified.


The incident originally occurred at US Ecology’s 328-acre hazardous waste disposal operation near the city of Grand View, Idaho on November 17, 2018.  The resultant blast blew holes in the roof of the facility that is used for processing waste barrels.  An equipment operator was killed and eight employees suffered non-life-threatening injuries.  The Idaho landfill, however, was not damaged in the incident.

US Ecology, Idaho DEQ, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) all continue to investigate the cause of the explosion.  According to a press release, US Ecology has made significant progress in understanding the event and is analyzing samples and other data collected in the wake of the explosion.


The Idaho DEQ authorization was issued in response to a request from US Ecology Idaho that was submitted on January 25 2019.  According to an Idaho DEQ press release, the state agency issued the authorization after “certification that the landfill cells are ready to receive waste and a subsequent letter certifying that necessary equipment is in place and can support the safe disposal of waste.”

Specifically, the authorization was issued after a professional engineer certified the state of the landfill cells and US Ecology demonstrated it had support equipment available.  The Idaho DEQ also performed several site visits and inspections, as well as reviewed the company’s temporary authorization request for operations.  The Idaho DEQ then determined that US Ecology could resume limited landfill disposal in a compliant and environmentally protective manner.

The Idaho DEQ approval will enable US Ecology Idaho to begin receiving off-site waste for direct disposal – i.e., the waste may go to the landfill without stopping for storage or treatment.  Idaho DEQ is allowing US Ecology to conduct acceptance and disposal of select bulk wastes, but has not yet authorized the company to resume waste treatment operations.  US Ecology was required to meet several safety requirements before issuance of the authorization.


Boise-based US Ecology operates facilities throughout the United States for disposal and treatment of radioactive and other waste types.  The US Ecology Idaho site is used for disposal and treatment of hazardous and nonhazardous wastes.

US Ecology sites may accept material designated as very low-activity radioactive waste by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and waste from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) cleanup sites.  US Ecology Idaho can also take in naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) and technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material (TENORM).

For additional information, please contact Joe Weismann of US Ecology at (208) 319-1634 or at

Utah Waste Management and Radiation Control Board Meets

On November 10, 2016, the Utah Waste Management and Radiation Control Board held a regularly scheduled meeting beginning at 1:30 p.m. MT in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The meeting, which was open to the public, was held in Conference Room 1015, Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Board Room, on the first floor of the Multi Agency State Office Building that is located at 195 North 1950 West in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The following items, among others, were on the agenda for the November 2016 Board meeting:

  1. Call to Order
  1. Approval of Meeting Minutes for the October 13, 2016 Board Meeting (Board Action Item)

III.    Underground Storage Tanks Update

  1. Underground Storage Tank Rules
  1. Final Adoption of Changes to the Underground Storage Tank Rules R311-200, R311-201, R311-202, R311-206 and R311-212 (Board Action Item)
  1. Approval of a Change in Proposed Rule for R311-203 to incorporate comments made by the Environmental Protection Agency (Board Action Item)
  1. Low-Level Radioactive Waste Section
  1. EnergySolutions LLC request for a site-specific treatment variance from the Hazardous Waste Management Rules. EnergySolutions seeks authorization to receive Cemented Uranium Extraction Process Residues for disposal. (Information Item Only)
  1. Administrative Rules
  1. EnergySolutions’ Petition to Initiate Rulemaking to repeal and reenact R313-25 and adopt 10 CFR Part 61 by reference (Information Item Only)

VII.   X-Ray Program

  1. Exemption Request for the Sensus SRT-100 machine from the requirements of R313-30-3(3), R313-30 -3(4), R313-30-3(5) and R313-30-3(6) (Board Action Item)
  1. Letter from Sensus Requesting the Exemption
  1. Comments from Patients or Relatives of Patients in Support of the Exemption
  1. Comments from the Medical Community in Support of the Exemption
  1. Comments from the Medical Community in Opposition to the Exemption

VIII.  Other Business

  1. Miscellaneous Information Item
  1. Scheduling of Next Board Meeting
  1. Adjourn

The Board—which is appointed by the Utah Governor with the consent of the Utah Senate—guides development of Radiation Control policy and rules in the state.

The Board holds open meetings ten times per year at locations throughout the state.  A public comment session is held at the end of each meeting.

Copies of the Utah Waste Management and Radiation Control Board meeting agendas and packet information can be found at


For additional information, please contact Rusty Lundberg, Deputy Director of the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control at the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, at (801) 536-4257 or at