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Environmental Groups Call For Unified Voice Against Nuclear Waste In Mountain West

Nathaniel Foong
A shot of a train passing through Utah. Recently a shipment of nuclear waste was sent via rail from Tennessee to southern Nevada, passing through Utah.

Environmental activists are calling for a united voice in protesting the Department of Energy's recent shipment of nuclear waste through our region.

Earlier this month, the Department of Energy sent a shipment of nuclear waste from Tennessee to southern Nevada. The shipment was incorrectly labeled as low-level waste, but it was actually mixed with waste that needs treatment before disposal. Nevada officials accused the agency of trying to sneak the material into the state illegally.

Now, environmental activists are calling for Utah Governor Gary Herbert to join Nevada and New Mexico's governors in their fight against nuclear waste shipments.

Steve Erickson is with the community action group, Citizens Education Project.

"We, as Westerners, ought to hang together on these policy decisions, or we may be hanged separately in the process," he said.

Erickson's group, along with eight others, sent a letter to Utah Governor Gary Herbert's office. They urged the governor to object the use of Utah roads and rail for shipping the material, to oppose consolidated storage in the region, and to answer whether Utah knew about the shipments before they were sent.

"We probably saw those shipments come through the state of Utah and we're not at all clear whether or not there were any notifications or any preparedness on the Utah side of the border," said Erickson.

The Department of Energy was not available for comment. Governor Herbert's office has received the letter, but says it can't comment on it at this time.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2019 KUNR. For more, visit kunr.org.

Noah Glick is a former content director and host at KUNR Public Radio.