Oh, the games our politicians play — namely Rep. James V. Hansen. After 10 elections and 20 years of selling Utah off to the highest bidder, he passes himself off as Utah's blameless, caretaker representative (Deseret News, My View, July 26, 2000, "Veto may put N-waste in Utah").
Historically, Utah's population has been abused by dirty industries, government/Army research and testing and land-use maneuvering — a lot of it on Hansen's exploitative watch. By spinning the controversial issue of nuclear waste storage on the Goshute reservation 40 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, Hansen hides behind the recent presidential veto on the proposed permanent nuclear storage site at Nevada's Yucca Mountain.
He covers his egregious past record by dumping his toxic verbiage on Utahns who have long disagreed with his polluting policies in Utah. Hansen switched quickly from opposing the Goshute waste storage site in Utah to the blame game when he evidently decided he is on the losing side.
Private Fuel Storage (PFS) is a consortium of eight Eastern electric utilities. At this time, PFS seeks to find storage space for spent nuclear fuel waste from 20 of our nation's 109 nuclear power plants. PFS plans to place 4,000, 16-foot-high casks filled with 40,000 metric tons of spent uranium fuel.
They will be stored on concrete pads in the open, above ground and exposed to the elements. The possibilities of dry lightning strikes, railroad-sparked grass fires, tornadoes and earthquakes, as well as vandalism and sabotage, are never-ending. The radioactive material is deadly for 10,000 years or longer, so the time frame and plans for the remaining 89 nuclear power plants have gruesome possibilities.
The current foolhardy idea of storing spent nuclear waste is built on the foundation of past days when selling Utah's western desert for low/high level waste storage was on the top of Hansen's "can do" list. Where do we think some members of the Goshute Tribe got the idea for storing spent nuclear fuel rods on their reservation, when toxic waste storage sites circle their reservation? Thanks to the short-sighted, money-oriented Tooele County Commission and usually with Hansen's blessing (Tooele is in Hansen's 1st District), Tooele is listed as one of the most polluted counties in the United States.
Hansen's political rhetoric and partisan blaming addresses none of the concerns nor solves any of the issues that surround the possible storage of nuclear waste on the Goshute reservation.
Genuinely concerned Utahns and approximately one third of the Goshute tribal members have petitioned, pleaded with and supported Gov. Mike Leavitt in trying to stop PFS from burdening Utah with the "temporary" — but in reality, permanent — storage site for spent nuclear waste. Utah does not use nuclear power; therefore, it does not generate nuclear waste. It is more reasonable that nuclear waste should be stored at or near the site of its generation.
Mr. Hansen's arrogant political statement in the Deseret News article that some "Utahns are only getting what they asked for" is not only an irresponsible comment, it is a condescending insult to the long concerned citizens of Utah, to the governor of Utah and to many members of the Goshute Tribe. It was a remark made by a Utah elected-official-turned-demagogue.
With or without Mr. Hansen, the citizens of Utah, their Goshute neighbors and the governor of Utah must join together to stop the continued use and abuse of Utah as the nation's dumping ground.
Rosemary A. Holt is past president of WomenConcerned/UtahnsUnited. She is the director of Transcultural Awareness Exchange Inc., a small nonprofit organization that conducts educational and humanitarian work in Eastern Europe.