Opinion: Storing nuclear waste on Goshute Reservation bad idea
"Tim Vollmann contends that the Goshute Tribe has the right to store spent nuclear fuel on tribal property. I do not contest his legal assertions. The fact that it may be legal, however, does not necessarily make it a good idea.

In the field of risk assessment, some potential catastrophic events have a low probability of occurring, but they carry grave consequences if they do. In other words, some events have such dire consequences that the risk is simply not worth taking. A terror attack in Skull Valley may be an example of such a “low probability, high consequence” event.

Despite the fact that spent fuel is deadly, I have little doubt that storage casks are designed to withstand extreme forces and temperatures. But a terror attack would not have to breach the casks to be successful. The whole point of terrorism is not the attack per se. Rather it is to instill fear, mistrust, and insecurity after an attack.

How would the citizens of Utah feel after a terror attempt, successful or not, on Skull Valley? How would we feel if a plot were merely uncovered?

Mr. Vollmann, an attorney representing the tribe, has harsh words for the NIMBY (not in my back yard) mentality of Utahns. Well, perception is reality. However improbable an attack, why should the citizens of Utah blithely accept a bullseye centered in Skull Valley? However improbable it may have seemed on Sept. 10, 2001, the events of the next day should have taught us that the unimaginable sometimes happens."

Get the Story:
Steve Nelson: Storing spent nuclear fuel in Utah simply a bad idea (The Salt Lake Tribune 9/1)

District Court Decision:
Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians v. DOI (July 26, 2010)

Interior Decision Documents:
Skull Valley Band Nuclear Waste Repository

Related Stories:
Tim Vollman: Skull Valley Band wins right to nuclear waste facility (8/30)
Secretary Salazar won't commit to appeal on Goshute nuclear site (08/04)
Utah politicians urge appeal on Skull Valley Goshute nuclear waste (8/3)
Politicians promise battle on Goshute Band nuclear waste facility (7/28)
Judge blasts Bush decision on Goshute Band nuclear waste facility (7/27)
Judge holds hearing over rejected Goshute nuclear dump (3/23)
Skull Valley Goshutes sue DOI over lease rejection (7/18)
Court puts off challenge to Goshute nuclear (6/27)
Interior called Goshute chairman on cell phone (09/14)
Goshute chairman blasts Interior on waste deal (9/13)
Editorial: Interior, the imprudent trustee (9/11)
Interior rejects Skull Valley nuclear waste dump (9/8)
Goshute Tribe rejects Griles deal as 'disingenuous' (4/24)