SALT LAKE CITY (CN) – The Skull Valley Goshute Indian Tribe and a group of utility companies may revisit their plan to develop a commercial spent fuel storage facility in Utah’s west desert, a federal judge ruled.
Judge David M. Ebel vacated decisions by the U.S. Department of Interior that had blocked construction of the proposed Tooele County facility and remanded Private Fuel Storage’s right-of-way application and lease of tribal land to for further consideration.
The Goshute tribe had agreed to lease land to Private Fuel as a long-term solution. Private Fuel obtained a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build and operate the spent fuel storage facility near the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground.
The waste would be transported via railway and, for the last 24 miles, by “heavy haul” trucks onto the Goshute land, Ebel said.
However, the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management denied the consortium’s request for a right-of-way access to the land.
Ebel called Interior’s decision to block Private Fuel’s request for right-of-way to build and operate a transport system on federal land “arbitrary and capricious, and an abuse of discretion.”
The Department of Interior’s main concern was that Private Fuel would not be able to dismantle the storage facility after the lease was up.
“[T]here is no evidence in the administrative record that [Private Fuel] could not physically dismantle the site and decommission the facility,” the judge’s 36-page answer states
Ebel remanded both of Private Fuel’s applications to the Department of Interior for reconsideration.