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Tribal and Rural County Concerns over Nukes at Yucca

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January 7, 2008

Las Vegas, NV - Only a few days remain for Nevadans to have their say on the environmental impact of the plan to store nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain. Larson Bill with the Western Shoshone Defense Project says the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will be hearing loud and clear from Native Americans. They believe storing nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain violates U.S. Treaty obligations, as well as deeply held traditional beliefs.

"Those Mountains are sacred. You don't take human waste into a Catholic Church and store it there, you know. It's common sense, if you believe in Mother Nature as an entity that keeps you alive."

The DOE says scientists from around the world agree the best place to store nuclear waste is deep underground, and Yucca Mountain was selected because it is remote and on federal land, although that land claim is hotly contested by the Shoshone Nation.

Abby Johnson, the Nuclear Waste Advisor for Eureka County, adds the DOE's plan for Yucca Mountain comes up short in considering the possibility of accidents when transporting nuclear waste to the site, both by road and rail.

"There isn't a lot in the Environmental Impact Statement about emergency response and the burden of being a first responder that is placed upon rural Nevada and, of course, other places as well."

Late last year, a Dakota-based tribe, the Lakota Indians, announced formal separation from the United States because of treaty violations. Bill says he doesn't think, in Nevada, it has come to that yet.

"I don't think it has anything to do with breaking away from the United States; I think the United States should break away from the original people that were here, and at least allow them to live the way they feel like living, to protect the Mother Earth and the environment."

The last day to comment on the DOE's final Environmental Impact Statement is Thursday.

Michael Clifford/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NV