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Gov. Lobbies Against Radioactive Waste Plan

Gov. Lobbies Against Radioactive Waste Plan

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. lobbied in Washington over the weekend against the nuclear-waste repository planned for the Goshutes' reservation in Skull Valley.

"I want to make sure the White House is able to follow this issue as we proceed," Huntsman told The Salt Lake Tribune's Washington office.

Huntsman met with White House officials during a Republican Governors Association dinner Saturday night and in sessions at the National Governors Association winter meeting.

He said he emphasized the state's opposition to Private Fuel Storage's plan to transport casks of waste from the nation's nuclear energy reactors to Utah's western desert.

Huntsman does not know yet whether the Bush administration will side with Utah.

"The feedback is they want to follow the issue with us and there's only so much detail you can cover at this point," Huntsman said Sunday evening. "We will have meetings to follow."

In 2002, the Bush administration signed a pledge to block use of federal funds to help build, maintain or transport nuclear waste to the Goshute site in exchange for votes from Utah's two Republican senators in favor of siting the nation's nuclear waste repository at Nevada's Yucca Mountain.

The Yucca Mountain plans face an uncertain future due to congressional divisions and court rulings.

Last week, a federal safety advisory board forwarded the PFS application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for final approval. The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board rejected Utah's claim that chances of an F-16 jet from Hill Air Force Base crashing into the waste dump posed too great a risk for the project to proceed.

PFS proposes storing waste in Utah for up to 40 years, after which time the casks would be transported to Yucca Mountain for permanent storage. Many opponents of the plan contend that once the material is in Utah, there will be no incentive to pursue the Yucca plans.

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

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