Golden, Colo., is famous for its beer.
But it's also home to Waste-Tech, a toxic-waste disposal company that wants to put an incinerator on Indian land just over the Utah-Arizona border near Kanab.A group of local residents, however, doesn't think that's such a good idea.
It's the water - and a lot more - according to incinerator opponent Jesse Johnson of Kanab.
"They are going to poison the air, the land and the water," said Johnson, who heads the recently formed Alliance Against Incineration. "To me, it's totally a health issue."
Waste-Tech, a subsidiary of Amoco Oil Co., has been studying for about six months the feasibility of locating an incinerator and a landfill on the Kaibab-Paiute Indian Reservation about 10 miles southwest of Kanab.
The $50 million facility could eventually burn up to 100,000 tons of petroleum and chemical waste - mainly from California - per year. Ash from the burn plant would be disposed of in the landfill.
It's a project that could also bring jobs and higher incomes to many of the Kaibab-Paiute tribes' 205 members.
Johnson's group and an Indian organization called the Paiute Earthkeepers are working to stop the burn plant before it gets started.
They've already collected 3,000 signatures - 2,000 of them from locals and 1,000 from tourists - on a petition asking that the project be stopped.
Joining them recently in their fight is Kenley Brunsdale, a Democrat challenging Rep. Jim Hansen, the Republican from Utah's 1st Congressional District of which Kane County is a part. Brunsdale has made the proposed waste incinerator Issue No. 9 in his campaign against Hansen.
Earlier this month, Brunsdale helped the incineration opponents draft a bill, which they sent along with the petition to Hansen to sponsor.
Hansen press secretary Rick Guldan said it's premature to be thinking about legislation now because the proposal is still in the preliminary stage.
"We don't know what they want to incinerate, how large it is or if they have the money," Guldan said. "So, it's another case of Kenley making a political issue where none exists."
But Brunsdale said something needs to be done now to prevent another public policy disaster, such as the Wyoming-California natural gas pipeline, which he has also made a campaign issue.
"Waste-Tech is not the kind of company we want doing business in Utah or in areas that affect Utah," said Brunsdale, former aide and environmental adviser to Rep. Wayne Owens, a Democrat from Utah's 2nd Congressional District.
The company, he said, is "in the business of locating exclusively on Indian reservations" to avoid state environmental regulations and to exploit economically depressed areas. The Environmental Protection Agency is also ill-prepared to protect health, safety and welfare of Indians, Brunsdale said.
"(Waste-Tech) locates on Indian land for all the wrong reasons and that's offensive to Indians and non-Indians."
Waste-Tech officials were out of town this week and unavailable for comment, a company secretary said.
Brunsdale said the bill he and incinerator opponents drafted would authorize the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to regulate the location and operation of hazardous waste disposal facilities on tribal lands, applying state and local regulations with the approval of the tribal councils.
"Basically, it would take away the incentives for Waste-Tech to locate on the Kaibab-Paiute Reservation," the candidate said.