Consumer, Environmental Groups Urge President to Intervene in Industry Plans for Nuclear Waste Storage in Utah

Dec. 6, 2000

Consumer, Environmental Groups Urge President to Intervene in Industry Plans for Nuclear Waste Storage in Utah

Private Consortium Wants to Transport Nuclear Waste to Utah Site

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A broad coalition of consumer and environmental groups has asked the White House to block a proposal to store high-level radioactive waste from commercial nuclear reactors on the Skull Valley Goshute Reservation in Utah.

Private Fuel Storage, Ltd. (PFS), a consortium of eight nuclear utilities, is advancing a proposal to transport 40,000 metric tons of nuclear waste from around the country to an aboveground, interim storage facility on the reservation, which is near Tooele, Utah, approximately 45 miles west of Salt Lake City. PFS intends to open the facility in 2003, initiating an unprecedented and dangerous cross-country nuclear transportation scheme.

In a Dec. 5 letter to President Clinton, 23 national organizations and dozens of grassroots organizations outline their concerns with this proposal and request an executive order to prevent the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission from licensing the PFS facility.

“Transporting high-level nuclear waste is inherently dangerous because it exposes people along transportation routes to the risk of radiation release in areas where emergency responders may not be equipped for a nuclear accident,” the letter says. The proposal “would unnecessarily increase this risk by requiring waste to be transported more than once over long distances.”

Furthermore, the project s draft environmental impact statement gives inadequate attention to transportation issues, and no public hearings have been scheduled outside Utah. PFS refuses to specify which routes would be used to transport the waste, making it difficult for concerned citizens to discern how their communities may be affected by the proposal.

National policy and procedures also are at issue. In the letter, the signatory groups “object in the strongest terms to the precedent that the PFS proposal sets for granting private industry the authority to decide upon remote siting and policy for high-level [radioactive] waste storage. . . . It is clearly unacceptable to allow PFS to proceed with this flawed proposal, which places the economic interests of the nuclear industry above democratic process and the legitimate safety concerns of citizens.”

The groups also have requested a meeting with the White House.