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Project on Government Oversight

Letter from Groups to Members of Congress Regarding the Decommissioning of the Atlas Uranium Mill in Moab, Utah

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February 5, 1999

Dear Member of Congress:

The decommissioning of the Atlas uranium mill in Moab, Utah, has been of continuing concern because its radioactive wastes contaminate drinking water for 20 million people. The groups below are writing to alert you about the situation in Moab and to inform you of the steps needed to remedy the environmental catastrophe already taking place. Included with this letter is a fact sheet regarding the site.

We are asking that you support H.R. 393, introduced by Representatives Miller, Filner, Pelosi, McInnis, and Gutierrez. This legislation will move the purview of the site from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to the Department of Energy (DOE) and will require that the tailings pile be relocated. It will also authorize the proper authorities to seek reimbursement for the cost of the reclamation from the Atlas Corporation. The Bureau of Land Management has already located potential sites for the relocation of the tailings pile.

As you may know, studies have shown that merely capping this uranium tailings pile will allow the continued contamination of the ecosystem in and around the now defunct mill which is 750 feet from the Colorado River. Capping the site - covering it with rock and sand - is Atlas Corporation's proposal for "cleaning-up" the site. The NRC states that they do not have the authority to mandate the relocation of the uranium tailings. However, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service all support moving the pile. Therefore, it is necessary for Congress to take action regarding this issue.

The DOE has the experience, having previously relocated similar sites, to successfully and efficiently clean up this uranium mill tailings site. Supporting this legislation is the best solution to ensure the preservation of safe and clean drinking water for millions of people.

Sincerely,

Danielle Brian
Executive Director
Project On Government Oversight

Courtney Cuff
Legislative Director
Friends Of the Earth

Debbie Sease
Legislative Director
Sierra Club

Ann C. Mills
Vice President for Conservation
American Rivers

James Riccio
Staff Attorney
Public Citizen - Critical Mass Energy Project

Bill Hedden
Utah Conservation Director
Grand Canyon Trust

Robert K. Musil
Executive Director
Physicians for Social Responsibility

Anna Aurilio
Staff Scientist
U.S. Public Interest Research Group

Sam Smith
Editor
Progressive Review

Larry Young
Washington Director
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

Louis Clark
Executive Director
Government Accountability Project