A bit of background on Yucca Mountain


Although the proposed high-level radioactive waste deep geological repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, remains canceled, it was never legal in the first place. It sits on Western Shoshone land, illegally seized by the U.S government, and breaking the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley which did not cede land claims to the federal government.

As Ian Zabarte, Principal Man for the Western Bands of the Shoshone Nation of Indians, wrote on our blog site, Beyond Nuclear International:

“Nothing in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, as amended in 1987, considered the fact of Shoshone ownership of the proposed Yucca Mountain high-level nuclear waste repository. Almost $15 billion was spent to characterize the site, giving it the label as, “the most studied piece of real estate in the world.” The Nuclear Regulatory Commission admitted in the licensing proceedings that the Department of Energy has not proven ownership.”

He further noted:

“Nevada took hundreds of millions of dollars for characterization studies from the federal government in grants equal to taxes from Shoshone property and gave nothing to the Shoshone. A clear case of taxation without representation to defraud the Shoshone people of our property interests.”

The Department of Energy argued that the Yucca site was barren and therefore no life would be harmed by the imposition of a radioactive waste dump. But, as Zabarte told us in a separate story:

“The oldest and most isolated plants and animals are here, in Newe Sogobia, the people’s Mother Earth, Pando, Quaking Aspen, is the largest and oldest tree up to 80,000 years old and spreads across 25 square miles. Bristol Cone Pine is 6,800 years old. Yutumbe, Creosote is an 11,700 year old clone plant. Thyms Buckwheat is a plant that only exists on 5 acres here, and nowhere else on Mother Earth. There is also the Devils Hole Pupfish, the most isolated fish that changed from salt water to fresh water near Death Valley.”

Yucca Mountain is not completely off the radar. Consequently, the Western Shoshone and their allies remain vigilant. “Our identity is the land, our identity is clear, pristine water, our identity is the oldest life on the planet here in the Great Basin,” says Zabarte. “This is what is important to us.”

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