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Policy Letter

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

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