UNR Expert Questions Safety OIf Hauling Toxic Waste

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A proposal to allow more toxic waste shipments into Nevada is being questioned by an environmental expert at the University of Nevada, Reno.

"What is the compelling interest ... to substantially reduce the amount of funds obtained and allow larger amounts of less well-characterized and potentially toxic wastes, to come to our state?" said Glenn Miller, professor and director of the UNR graduate program in Environmental Science and Health.

Miller addressed his concerns to Allen Biaggi, chief of the state Division of Environmental Protection, in an e-mail about a proposal due for consideration Feb. 26 by the state Environmental Commission in Reno.

Biaggi has said the intent was to make prices for burial at Beatty competitive with costs in California and other states. California charges $5.72 a ton, Idaho $5 and Oregon $2.50.

US Ecology, which operates a toxic waste burial site at Beatty, is asking for permission to cut the cost of handling a ton of waste from $17 to $3.

Under the proposal, some waste considered hazardous in other states would not be considered hazardous in Nevada.

Miller, former president of the Sierra Club of Reno, said a proposal to allow shipments without manifests could put emergency responders at risk in an accident.