10 October 2004
VALLEY, Tooele County — Fighting sandstorms, wind and
rain, representatives of environmental groups from Utah
and other states gathered this weekend on the Goshute
Indian Reservation here to oppose plans to store nuclear
Fuel Storage (PFS), a corporation that represents eight
nuclear utilities, has contracted with the Goshutes to
store 40,000 tons of nuclear waste in above ground
canisters on the reservation, located about 75 miles
southwest of Salt Lake City.
some tribe members and dozens of environmental groups
vehemently oppose bringing waste into the state.
Bullcreek lives on the reservation and has been one of
the leaders opposing the waste storage. She said it is
important for the public to know there are tribe members
who do oppose it and that it is an issue that has
divided the tribe.
is a large corporation targeting our small traditional
Native American reservation for its dangerous project,
and taking advantage of our sovereignty," Bullcreek
said. "Sovereignty isn't selling your heritage to
the highest bidder. . . . The dump will threaten our
tribe's health, cultural traditions and reservation
on the flip side, storing the waste could spell economic
prosperity for the impoverished reservation.
from money, Pete Lister, coordinator of the Nuclear Free
Great Basin Campaign, said it is also a chance for tribe
members to assert their rights as Native Americans to
use their lands how they see fit.
view is understandable, Lister said, but the nuclear
industry is exploiting that sovereignty and fails to
support those who have a spiritual tie to the land.
say 'We can get rich off this . . . why is Utah against
it?' " Bullcreek said. "But it is poisonous
and it's going to affect our small reservation, the only
small piece of land that is left for us. We welcome the
states' contentions to oppose the waste."
site would be a "temporary" storage site
inasmuch as the contract is for 20 years with an option
for renewal. Utah officials and other groups, who are
fighting the proposal, are concerned it will become
say it will just be temporary, but there are no plans
for an exit strategy, and that should be a red flag for
everyone," said Jason Groenewold, director of
Healthy Environmental Alliance or Utah (HEAL Utah).
"We need to remember and be very clear that once
the waste gets here, no one else is going to take
March 2003, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
denied PFS its license to begin construction of the
dump, citing a risk of accidents involving F-16 fighter
jets that routinely pass over the valley en route to
Hill Air Force Base.
May 2003, PFS appealed the decision and offered to
reduce the size of the site. But it was turned down due
to the process in which the appeal was filed.
proposal remains on the table.
need to stop the nuclear industry from targeting
vulnerable communities — that's what they do,"
Lister said. "We don't want this impression to be
left — whether it's in the press or in public policy
— that these communities are just going to roll over.
There is in fact solidarity behind them."
said events like the Skull Valley gathering are
organized to help demonstrate that there is support for
people who struggle in these indigenous or vulnerable
60 people attended the three-day event, including
representatives from HEAL Utah, the Goshute and Wind
River reservations and environmental groups like the
Washington, D.C.-based Public Citizen, Oregon-based
Peaceworks and Citizen Alert of Reno, Nev.
was the second protest gathering in Skull Valley since