Associated Press  [Printer-friendly version]
September 7, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: The U.S. Department of the Interior has
refused to endorse a nuclear-industry plan to store high-level
radioactive waste on land owned by the Skull Valley Goshute tribe in
Utah. This will delay, if not kill, the controversial project that
the nuclear power industry has been counting on.]

By Paul Foy

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The U.S. Interior Department on Thursday
rejected a bitterly contested plan to create a nuclear waste stockpile
at an American Indian reservation in Utah's west desert.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said the decision kills a proposal to store
44,000 tons of spent fuel rods on the Goshute Indians' Skull Valley
reservation, about 50 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.

Private Fuel Storage, a group of nuclear-power utilities known as PFS,
won a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in February.
Lawsuits, regulatory opposition and other hurdles have delayed the
plan for years.

"PFS is dead," Hatch said. "To me, it's a great day for Utah."

The Interior Department used its power to veto a lease tribal leaders
approved for the stockpile. The agency also refused to yield federal
land for a transfer station where fuel rods would be moved from rail
cars to tractor-trailers.

A spokeswoman for the utility consortium that won a license for the
storage site suggested it was premature to call it dead.

"We have not seen the decisions or figured out what our options may
be," PFS spokeswoman Sue Martin said.

A public-health group also was cautious.

"We're a little hesitant to declare full victory on this because PFS
has a license. It's like having a license but no car, and they've been
told to stay off the road," said Vanessa Pierce, executive director
of Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah.

Private Fuel Storage billed the Goshute stockpile as temporary until
the federal government can open a national repository at Nevada's
Yucca Mountain. But some worried Utah could have become a "de facto"
home for nuclear waste if the Yucca facility, which is behind
schedule, doesn't open.

Copyright The Associated Press