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Keep fighting N-waste battle

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The fight to stop high-level nuclear waste from being shipped to Utah's West Desert continues.

It must, because Private Fuel Storage, a consortium of nuclear power utilities, is just as determined to ship nuclear waste from the East and Midwest to Utah.

The latest installment involves dueling lawsuits. PFS sued the state to try to overturn several laws passed by the Legislature designed to impede shipments and the storage of nuclear waste in Utah.

Last Wednesday, Gov. Mike Leavitt announced the state has filed a counterclaim to PFS's lawsuit.

This page has long advocated taking all legal means necessary to thwart the shipping of 10.4 million spent fuel rods to a proposed nuclear waste facility on Goshute tribal lands.

And that is precisely what the Legislature and governor are doing. They are trying to legally make it as difficult as possible for PFS or any other entity to transport nuclear waste to Utah.

A legislative committee on Wednesday stated that it wants to study the possibility of taxing the spent fuel rods, which could generate millions of dollars for the state's coffers.

PFS wants to store 40,000 tons of spent fuel rods in above-ground steel casks. This supposedly would be just a temporary storage site until a permanent repository is built, presumably at Yucca Mountain, Nev.

But if PFS is allowed to ship waste from the East and Midwest to Utah, it's quite possible that the temporary site in the West Desert could become a permanent site.

Officials in Nevada are trying to prevent Yucca Mountain from becoming the nation's nuclear waste dump. They and others could very well mount a campaign to make the West Desert, not Yucca Mountain, the permanent site once nuclear waste shipments arrive in Utah.

Until either regional sites or a permanent site can be established, the right thing to do is to leave the nuclear waste at the sites where it's generated. Nuclear waste that is produced in Ohio should stay in Ohio; nuclear waste produced in New York should remain in New York and so forth.

But logic seems to have been pushed to the back while the lure of financial gain has moved to the front. That may be understandable but it's regrettable.

By trying to block the plan by PFS, Leavitt and other state officials are doing what's in the best interests of Utahns.