The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Nuclear Private Fuel Storage:
Toxic waste for the poor

Oct 28, 2002

Private Fuel Storage, PFS, a combination of eight utility corporations, can't find a place to store their nuclear waste. Right now they have at least 15,000 tons (30 million pounds) of waste products from nuclear power plants which needs to be stored until the long-term storage facility is opened by the U.S. government at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. And no one knows when or if that facility will ever open.

PFS has offered their waste as an economic "opportunity" to Native American tribes. Tribes have some control of their own lands, that is, the reservations found in a number of states. PFS first offered 280 million dollars to an Apache tribe in New Mexico, but this tribe turned down the deal in 1996. Now the PFS is negotiating with the Goshute Band, a Utah tribe so small and so poor that their average income is $7,000 per person.

PFS operates nuclear power plants from California to Florida, from Minnesota to Arkansas. They have enormous expenses for storing fuel rods which remain radioactive for thousands of years. Most communities want the nuclear waste stored far away from them.

The federal government has long recognized this problem of nuclear waste; it has been working on the Yucca Mountain project for many years, trying to gather support for permanent underground storage there. In addition, a U.S. Atomic Waste Negotiator has the job of trying to bribe some community somewhere to take these radioactive fuel rods temporarily.In Utah, where the Goshute are located, tribes are not allowed casinos, even on reservations where they supposedly control the laws and the land. So the tribal leaders hope for high payments for taking this deadly waste.

The U.S. government has handled other waste problems in a similar way. All kinds of power plants have hazards associated with their waste products. But we never see power plants located in wealthy communities nor right in the heart of Washington D.C. Over and over, power plants are located among the poorest communities where, even when the neighbors object, they lack the political or financial resources to push the power plants out.

The federal government has a 400 year history of attacks on native Americans since the first European settlers came to these shores. With deadly nuclear waste to store for centuries and centuries, these attacks continue!