Friday, July 20, 2007

Nuclear Waste Dump on American Indian land in Utah?

Sometimes I'm accused of being a romantic. People have commented that indigenous peoples are not always peaceful, harmonious with their environment, socially responsible, and so on. I agree. You could almost categorize me as being cynical, but that would leave me (and most others) with little options for affecting change in the world - a position that I would like to believe is incorrect.

So, after I posted yesterday about the uranium mining in South Dakota, I get to post today about the opposite side of the nuclear debate. With the development of nuclear energy, the spent nuclear reactor rods need to be disposed of. Well, were else than on indigenous people's land? I'm not a big fan of this alternative, but in the case below, the Goshute tribe of Utah has actually requested that they receive the nuclear reactor waste. Why? So they can make some money (actually quite a bit) and perhaps better their people. If you have never been out to the Goshute Skull Valley area, it is quite beautiful in the typical Great Basin way: sparse vegetation, open stretches of land, few people, and a peaceful silence like few places left in America. In fact, it is one of the more beautiful places out there, but sadly, there is no way to make a living out there. For the Goshute, their options are few: either move away from family, land, and culture to the city, or stay in the area and live in poverty on government checks.

Well, the Goshute tribal leaders came up with their own solution to bettering themselves. Accept nuclear waste. Of course, they won't just be dumping the waste all over the top-soil. No, rather it will be buried deep in the earth in accordance with strict nuclear waste disposal guidelines. I'm not one to judge the regulations about how safe it is to dispose of nuclear waste in the area. It seems safer than Yucca Mountain. Further, it gives the Goshute people a way to bring money to the reservation and potentially create health programs, educational programs, and the like.

So, what is one to do? I'm in favor of the environment. I'm in favor of planet earth. I'm in favor of giving indigenous peoples an equal voice. I'm in favor of alternative energy. Should I fight this? Well, I may not agree with it, but at least this is the Goshute doing it for themselves. It's not like some big nation-state government or giant multinational corporation is forcing them to take the waste (as would have happened at Yucca Mountain). I say let them have it. If nothing else, they may actually be able to work with the spirits of the place so that the waste is accepted by the land and slowly (I'm talking millions of years here) become incorporated back into mother earth.

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