Native American indians plan to lease reservation lands to a consortium of electric utilities for the disposal of nuclear waste. The proposals have already been approved by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that has deemed the plan safe. However, there are some fierce opponents to the plan that could see as much as 44 000 tonnes of radioactive waste deposited at Skull Valley southwest of Salt Lake City in Utah. The state governor, Mike Leavitt, has accused the NRC of lacking objectivity, given that there is considerable pressure to find a site for nuclear waste storage as soon as possible. This follows delays in development of the proposed Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada and impending legal action against the Department of Energy (DoE) by utilities that are currently being forced to store waste on-site, in contravention of an earlier agreement. The DoE faces millions of dollars in damages costs after failing to abide by the Nuclear Waste Policy Act and to begin accepting waste from January 1998.

If the consortium of eight utilities, Private Fuel Storage, concludes the agreement with the Goshutes Indian Reservation, spent fuel rods will be kept in concrete-encased steel containers on reservation lands.

The NRC still has to hold environmental impact assessments and requires a number of state and federal approvals. A final decision on the site is expected during 2002.