Uintah Basin Standard


State opens office to combat plans
to store high level nuclear waste here



     Gov. Mike Leavitt has deployed emergency funds to fight the storage of high-level nuclear waste in Utah, signed an executive order to create The Office of High Level Nuclear Waste Opposition, and requested ongoing funds from the Legislature to continue the fight.
     In support of the plan, NO! The Coalition Opposed to High-Level Nuclear Waste presented the Governor with its White Paper opposing storage in Utah. The governor was also joined by Goshute Indians who oppose the plan to store waste on the Skull Valley Indian Reservation.
     "I will deploy every tool I can to fight the storage of high-level nuclear waste in our state," Leavitt said. "We don't produce this waste; we shouldn't store it. We are engaging in serious legal warfare to keep this lethally hot waste out of Utah."
     The Office of High-Level Nuclear Opposition will formulate strategies and legal options to stop the storage of high-level nuclear waste in Utah. The governor deployed $50,000 of emergency funds for office start up. He is proposing $600,000 in supplemental funds and $1 million in on-going funds. The funds will be used to hire senior legal counsel and additional attorneys and educate the public about the potential impacts to the state if high-level nuclear waste is stored here. The office will also explore meaningful alternative economic development opportunities.
     The Governor is also working on a legislative agenda, including a combination of taxing, regulation and possibly even criminal measures to regulate the transportation and storage of nuclear waste to the full extent under state law.
     Private Fuel Storage, LLC, (PFS) a consortium of 8 nuclear utility companies, has proposed to store 40,000 metric tons of uranium in spent nuclear fuel rods, above-ground on concrete pads on the Skull Valley Band of Goshutes Reservation. Federal law requires an underground, permanent storage repository for high-level nuclear waste. While PFS has a purported lease with the Band, numerous General Council members are opposing the facility.
     Also released was the White Paper prepared by NO! The Coalition Opposed to High-Level Nuclear Waste. The coalition, co-chaired by prominent Salt Lake attorneys Dan Berman and Frank Suitter, was charged by the Governor in September to coordinate and energize opposition to spent nuclear fuel storage in Utah.
     The report says that state legislation, vigorous litigation, Congressional initiatives and broad and determined public participation are needed to oppose the plan. "When PFS ships the high-level nuclear waste, it shifts the risk, from the communities that realized the benefits, to Utahns who once again, not of their own choice, find themselves downwind, showered with promises of nuclear safety."


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