As reported by the Salt Lake Tribune, the Private Fuel Storage (PFS) Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) has given up on its plans to turn the tiny Skull Valley Goshutes Inidan Reservation in Utah into a parking lot dump (or "centralized interim storage facility") for commercial high-level radioactive waste. At one time, PFS was comprised of more than a dozen nuclear utilities, led by Xcel Energy of Minnesota, with Dairyland Power Co-Op as a front group.
In 2005-2006, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) granted PFS a construction and operating license, despite objections by traditionals with the Skull Valley band, nearly 500 environmental and environmental justice organizations, as well as the State of Utah. The plan was for 40,000 metric tons of irradiated nuclear fuel to be "temporarily stored" (for 20 to 40 years) in 4,000 dry casks on the reservation. However, as the ultimate plan was to transfer the wastes to the Yucca Mountain dump, when that proposal was cancelled in 2009, this would have meant the wastes would have been stuck indefinitely at Skull Valley.
In 2006 a very unlikely coalition, involving the likes of Mormon political leaders and wilderness advocates, succeeded in creating the first federal wilderness area in Utah in a generation. This created a "moat" around the Skull Valley reservation, blocking the railway needed to directly deliver the waste. And, after lobbying efforts at the top echelons of Republican Party decision making circles by U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) as well as Utah Governor Huntsman, the George W. Bush administration's Department of the Interior refused to approve the lease agreement between PFS and the Skull Valley band, as well as the intermodal transfer facility on Bureau of Land Management property which could have allowed heavy haul trucks to ship the waste containers the final leg of the journey to the reservation.
The Skull Valley Goshutes were first targeted by the nuclear power establishment more than 20 years ago. Altogether, 60-some tribes have been actively targeted for high-level radioactive waste parking lot dumps. All the proposals have been stopped, as through the work of Native American grassroots environmental activists like Grace Thorpe, working in alliance with environmental and environmental justice organizations.
On Jan. 7, the Salt Lake Tribune published a follow-on article about PFS's cancellation, entitled "Money, politics bury plans for Utah fuel-rod cemetery." The article quotes a leader of the broad coalition which opposed the "parking lot dump":
"...Chip Ward remembers an 'amazing' coalition swelled up around the goal of defeating the storage site.
Co-founder of the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah, he grasped the wariness of Utahns who already had allowed a slew of toxic industries to be established in western Utah — including chemical weapons destruction, bio-weapons testing, a low-level nuclear waste site, a hazardous waste site, a toxic waste incinerator and what was then the nation’s biggest air polluter...
'When you have a really powerful political movement,' Ward said, 'you can look past whatever divides you and what is important is the cause that unites you.'"
NIRS, for one, spearheaded a coalition of nearly 450 organizations nation-wide, which objected to the environmental, or radioactive, racism of the PFS proposal.