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Davis Capitulates to Industry Interests, Rejects Popular Radiation Protection Legislation

Sept. 30, 2002

Davis Capitulates to Industry Interests, Rejects Popular Radiation Protection Legislation

Statement of Jane Kelly, Director, California Office of Public Citizen

California Gov. Gray Davis has turned his back on the health and safety of Californians by failing to sign Senate Bill 1970, the “Radiation Safety Act of 2002,” which would have made illegal a state policy that allows radioactive waste to be dumped in municipal landfills without notification to adjacent communities. The bill also would have banned the deplorable practice of recycling radioactive materials into consumer products.

The regulation of radioactive materials by the state government is especially important at this moment because the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission are pushing plans to relax regulations and allow the “recycling” of radioactive waste into consumer goods. It is a shame that California, which has been a leader in national clean air efforts, has passed up an opportunity to be a leader in protecting consumers from radioactive waste.

In a statement today, Gov. Davis revealed the influence of industry interests on crucially important public health policy. He said, “The cost of shipping this material out of state would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, placing an enormous burden on …manufacturing.” Since 1998, Davis has received more than $330,000 in campaign contributions from companies that produce radioactive waste, including Boeing, Southern California Edison, and Pacific Gas & Electric. It is unfortunate that a bill that would have made great strides in protecting Californians from the dangerous effects of radiation has been sacrificed for corporate interests.

It is also important to note that the bill, sponsored by State Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Rosemead), passed both the California Assembly and Senate by wide margins and was supported by a broad coalition of environmental and public interest groups in California and nationwide. We urge Senator Romero to introduce the legislation again next session.