State continues nuclear fight
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DECEMBER 8, 2000

Already opposed to a nuclear waste facility that would be located on the Skull Valley Goshute Reservation, Utah Governor Mike Leavitt on Thursday created a new state office dedicated to the fight.

During his announcements for the state's fiscal year 2002 budget yesterday, Leavitt created the Office of High Level Nuclear Waste Opposition using $50,000 in emergency funds. He also said he would ask the state legislature for a $1 million annual budget for the office, in order to help the state fight the facility in court.

While the plan to store up to 40,000 tons of nuclear spent fuel is not yet totally approved, the site received a favorable review from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in October. In its review of the site, 45 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, the NRC said the facility itself, as well as the containers which would be used to store the waste, are safe.

Regardless of the government's conclusions, many officials in the state oppose the plan, pitting them against the economic development opportunities for the Goshute Tribe. The tribe has less than 150 members and fewer than 50 live on their 18,000-acre reservation, of which 820 acres would be dedicated to the site.

Employment opportunities for reservation residents appear to be few, according to the tribe. They last reported a 70 percent unemployment rate in 1997 and Chairman Leon Bear, re-elected after opponents boycotted last month's election, believes the the facility would help the tribe respond to housing, health, and other social needs of the tribe.

For that purpose, the tribe signed a lease agreement in 1997 with Private Fuel Storage, a consortium of commercial utility companies. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 requires the Department of Energy to accept spent fuel from utilities, arising to the need for a facility to store such waste.

But another site that would be located in Nevada has seen strong opposition, not just from state officials but from tribes in the area who consider the land sacred. The Las Vegas Sun recently obtained an internal DOE document which recommends the site gain approval.

Federal law would prohibit the Department from taking sides on the issue. In response to The Sun's report, Secretary Bill Richardson said the source of the memo was an independent contractor, not the government.

Relevant Links:
Private Fuel Storage Facility Application, Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Private Fuel Storage -
The Skull Valley Goshutes -

Related Stories:
Goshute chairman re-elected (Enviro 11/28)
Nuclear plan still divisive (Enviro 11/24)
Governor steps up nuclear waste protest (Enviro 11/14)
Nuclear aircraft safety report released (Enviro 10/17)
Goshute Secretary: Economic development (Money Matters 10/10)
Nuclear site plan deemed safe (Enviro 10/9)
More nuclear waste site comment wanted (Enviro 09/19)
Tribal nuclear waste targeted (Enviro 09/05)
Goshute plan comes under fire (Enviro 07/28)
Goshute nuclear plan raises ire (Enviro 07/11)

On Yucca Mountain:
The Yucca Mountain Project, Department of Energy -
Internal DOE probe urged (The Las Vegas Sun 12/6)
DOE blames contractor for memo (The Las Vegas Sun 12/5)
DOE wants Yucca (The Las Vegas Sun 12/1)