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Environment

Interior nixes Utah nuclear waste site

September 18, 2006 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 84, ISSUE 38

The Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Land Management have blocked a plan to build a facility to temporarily store commercial nuclear waste at a single location on an Indian reservation in rural Utah, 50 miles west of Salt Lake City. The bureaus' objections embraced a host of concerns, such as whether the spent nuclear fuel may remain on the reservation permanently because of delays in opening the Yucca Mountain waste repository and the need to transport the waste through department-controlled lands where such transportation is inappropriate or illegal. Private Fuel Storage (PFS), a consortium of eight electric utilities, and the Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians, a small tribe of Native Americans, have been planning the interim nuclear waste storage site for a decade. They intend to place in casks and on a concrete slab some 40,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear power plants until a permanent repository is constructed (C&EN, June 6, 2005, page 32). Although the plan is strongly opposed by the state, the consortium has gained a Nuclear Regulatory Commission permit. "We are not dead yet," says PFS spokeswoman Sue Martin. "We are taking some time to explore our options. We still feel we have a solution to the waste problem."

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