Amber Torres, Tribal Chairman of the Walker River Paiute Tribe, was one of 13 Nevada tribal leaders to send a letter to President Donald Trump and Energy Secretary Rick Perry protesting the shipment of a half metric ton of weapons-grade plutonium to the Nevada National Security Site without first informing state or tribal officials.
In her letter, she states that the Walker River Paiute Tribe is “outraged that Federal officials have disclosed that they have shipped radioactive plutonium to Nevada in spite of the state’s vehement opposition to the idea and concerns that doing so open the state up to further nuclear waste dumping.”
Governor Steven Sisolak also sent a letter to the president requesting a meeting to discuss the plutonium shipment and the plans that Trump may have with Yucca Mountain. Torres stated in her letter to the Nevada governor, “We are in agreement with your following statement: “To put the health and well-being of millions of people at risk due to the transportation into Nevada, without giving us the opportunity to prepare in case there would’ve been a mishap along the way, I think it was irresponsible and reckless on behalf of the department.”
Torres explained that Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford “also expressed his disdain and told officials that the environmental analysis the government conducted with insufficient. He said Judge Miranda Du had even said during a recent court hearing that she hoped the government was not shipping the plutonium while the case was pending in front of her. “But they have already shipped this plutonium,” Ford said, describing the government’s action as deceit and subterfuge. “And now they stand before the court saying that our motion for preliminary injunction no longer needs to be heard, that it is moot.”
Former Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval had also opposed the movement of the material into Nevada in a September 2018 letter explaining that the Department of Energy had relied on analyses and decisions previously made and which did not take into account the storing of this material indefinitely at the Nevada National Security Site. A lawsuit was filed by Sandoval in November.
The Nevada National Security Site is located approximated 65 miles outside of Las Vegas and is the “ancestral homelands of the Western Shoshone people” Arlan Melendez, chairman of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony stated.
“Yucca Mountain cannot be used as a dumping ground; this type of dangerous material poses a risk to the regional groundwater supply. We are also worried that seismic activity could also affect the storage and deposition of nuclear waste,” Chairman Torres continued.
She thanked Sisolak for this continuance in stopping the storage of “any type” of dangerous waste at Yucca Mountain. “The federal government should be held to a higher standard and follow federal laws and regulations, such as NEPA. We are always concerned about what is being transported across our reservation via Highway 95 or Alternate Highway 95. Safety of our people is of our utmost concern,” she concluded.