November 24, 1998

In addition to meeting Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt Monday when he visited the Atlas Corporation uranium tailings pile in Moab, Utah, the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund has filed a lawsuit to "ensure that the waste is moved and the site properly cleaned up," said Susan Daggett an Earthjustice staff attorney. Oak Ridge National Laboratory documented a plume of contaminated groundwater a mile wide and forty feet deep discharging from the tailings into the Colorado River, a drinking water source for 20 million Americans. Immediately downstream are Canyonlands National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the Grand Canyon, and Lake Mead, where major urban water withdrawals begin. Earthjustice says the Atlas pile should have been moved from the Colorado River floodplain years ago. The Department of Energy has invested over a billion dollars relocating nine other tailings piles that threatened rivers in the southwest. This pile is the only nuclear waste dump remaining beside a river.