Radioactive Waste on Skull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation, USA


The Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians Reservation in Utah had been sited as the new neighbors to a large temporary nuclear waste dump. Private Fuel Storage (PFS), a corporation that represents multiple other nuclear companies wants to store 40,000 tons of commercial high-level radioactive waste at this site in Skull Valley. This amount of radioactive waste is about 80% of the total commercial nuclear fuel used by the end of 2004.

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Basic Data
NameRadioactive Waste on Skull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation, USA
CountryUnited States of America
SiteSkull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation
Accuracy of LocationLOW country/state level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Nuclear
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Nuclear waste storage
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific CommoditiesLand
Industrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe temporary storage would hold 40,000 tons of commercial waste
Project Area (in hectares)45
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population30-150
Start Date1997
Company Names or State EnterprisesPrivate Fuel Storage, LLC from United States of America - Xcel Energy; Genoa Fuel Tech; American Electric Power; Southern California Edison; Southern Nuclear Company; First Energy; Entergy; and Florida Power and Light
Relevant government actorsNuclear Waste Commission, U.S Congress, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, Blue Ribbon Commission on America†™s Nuclear Future
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersNuclear Information and Resource Center
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Soil contamination, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Groundwater pollution or depletion, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
OtherRadioactive contamination
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.In 2006, through litigation the project was halted and transportation of the waste stopped. There have been recent attempts to find a new temporary nuclear waste storage facility and there is potential for the new Blue Ribbon Commission under President Obama to consider re-opening the option for Skull Valley. They were able to mobilize and fight back to prevent the storage of hazardous waste in their community. The Goshute tribe is very small and were still able to collaborate to defeated the large companies trying to store waste near them.
Sources and Materials

Hard Won Victory Against Environmentally Racist Nuke Waste Dump Targeted at Native Lands!
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Goshute Skull Valley Indian Reservation - Tooele County, Utah
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Confederate Tribes of the Goshute Indian Reservation
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Other Documents

Tribal dump opponent Margene Bullcreek of OGD Source:
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Other CommentsThis is one of the top 40 influential environmental justice cases in the United States identified from a national survey of environmental activists, scholars and other leaders by graduate students at the University of Michigan.
Meta Information
ContributorSara Orvis, [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update04/01/2016