Environment News Service

AmeriScan: June 3, 1999

CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR WILL NOT APPEAL WARD VALLEY RULING

California Governor Gray Davis, a Democrat, will not appeal a U.S. District Court decision in March that prevented the state from forcing the transfer of federal land in Ward Valley for a low-level radioactive waste dump. California and US Ecology, the company licensed by the state to develop Ward Valley, had sued the Department of Interior after Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt rescinded an order transferring the site to the state. The controversial dump site is opposed by many environmental and native Indian groups due to fears that radioactive waste could contaminate the nearby Colorado River, a source of drinking water for downstream communities including Los Angeles. The governor plans to convene an advisory group of academic, scientific, environmental, and biotechnology experts, as well as representatives from the utilities industry and appropriate state agencies, to find workable alternatives for California’s low-level radioactive waste disposal. Wednesday, Davis asked the president of the University of California, Richard Atkinson, to chair the group. Some environmentalists object to the appointment because the university produces radioactive waste and has supported the proposed Ward Valley site in the past. The waste disposal site is sought by university medical facilities and power generators in the Southwestern Compact states: Arizona, California, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

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