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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.

The Goshute Indians have reservation land that is in the middle of industrial and hazardous waste sited land and they often do no reap any benefits from these facilities. Therefore, after plans under the Nuclear Waste Repository Act stopped a temporary site through the U.S government, the Goshutes agreed to a lease with Private Fuel Storage. However, the lease had not been approved by the government and has prevented this plan from going through. The lease was made in 1997, and now the Goshute people are attempting to stop this nuclear waste storage facility from happening. in 2006, a victory came through litigation that halted transportation of nuclear waste to the facility. However, as recently as 2012, there are talks happening on again looking for a long term yet temporary waste storage facility and Skull Valley would be again on the list of potential places due to the already existing 25 year lease that had been signed.

Mobilization began in 1997 in reaction to plans developed to build a radioactive storage facility on Goshute lands

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Radioactive Waste on Skull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:Utah
Location of conflict:Skull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation
Accuracy of locationLOW (Country level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Nuclear
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Nuclear waste storage
Specific commodities:Land
Industrial waste

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The temporary storage would hold 40,000 tons of commercial waste

Project area:45
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:30-150
Start of the conflict:1997
Company names or state enterprises:Private 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 actors:Nuclear 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 organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Nuclear Information and Resource Center

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Creation 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
Other Environmental impactsRadioactive contamination
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors


Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain: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 & Materials

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Hard Won Victory Against Environmentally Racist Nuke Waste Dump Targeted at Native Lands!


Confederate Tribes of the Goshute Indian Reservation

Goshute Skull Valley Indian Reservation - Tooele County, Utah

Other comments:This 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

Contributor:Sara Orvis, [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update04/01/2016



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