Congressional Delegation Argues Against Nuclear Waste Facility

Congressional Delegation Argues Against Nuclear Waste Facility

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Locating a nuclear waste facility on the Goshutes' reservation in Skull Valley, 50 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, would be dangerous because a pilot might crash into it accidentally or on purpose, Utah's congressional delegation argued.

Private Fuel Storage, a utility consortium, is seeking Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval to build a facility for the temporary storage of spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants on the land owned by the Goshutes' Skull Valley Band.

The five members of the Utah congressional delegation sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Thursday opposing granting a license to PFS.

As the state has argued in the past, the delegation said the site is under the flight path of Hill Air Force Base planes training in the Utah Test and Training Range. The planes sometimes carry live ordinance.

"Due to the possibility of an accidental or deliberate aircraft crash, concerns over the safety of the waste during transportation and storage, and uncertainty regarding liability, the Utah Congressional delegation strongly opposes the granting of this license," the delegation's letter said.

The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board held lengthy hearings on the safety aspects and ruled against the state's objections. The board concluded that even if an F-16 did crash into the site, it was not likely to result in radiological release.

Meanwhile, a group called Scientists for Secure Waste Storage wrote the White House this week in support of the proposed storage facility.

A cover letter by Martin S. Kaufman, senior vice president of Atlantic Legal Foundation, addressed issues including reducing America's dependence on foreign oil and respecting the Goshutes' position.

After seven years of proceedings, the board examined "all of the safety and environmental concerns put forward by the state of Utah" and determined a license should be issued, it said.

The letter, quoted by the Deseret Morning News, noted the recent White House visit by Utah's senators in opposition to the project.

"We urge that the administration not cave in to this political pressure, and allow the regulatory process to take its course," the letter said. "We note that the state of Utah has been an active and vigorous participant in that process, and should not now try to circumvent it."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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