FEB 21, 2017 08:26 AM PST

The Cherokee Nation Halts Uranium Mining Company's Waste Disposal into Rivers

The Cherokee Nation and state of Oklahoma jointly filed a restraining order against Sequoyah Fuels Corporation to stop the company from disposing radioactive waste near the Arkansas and Illinois rivers. The request was granted by Sequoyah County District Judge Jeff Payton, according to the Cherokee Nation.

Photo: worldnews.indywatch.org

Sequoyah Fuels Corporation, opened by Kerr-McGee in 1970, converted yellowcake uranium into uranium hexafluoride, a compound that produces fuel for nuclear reactors. However, after several accidents with injuries and one fatality, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission began the corporation’s decommissioning process in 1986. It ceased all operations in 1993. 

The Cherokee Nation reports that Sequoyah Fuels collected approximately 11,000 tons of uranium-contaminated sludge in several basins, lagoons and ditches at the site during the decommissioning process. In November of 2004, the state of Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation and Sequoyah Fuels entered into a settlement agreement: Sequoyah Fuels agreed to spend up to $3.5 million to responsibly dispose of the waste off-site. 

And that should have been the end of the story there. But last week the corporation reported that they have not been able to find a suitable location off-site to dispose of the the radioactive waste. Instead, they proposed that they would store it in an onsite location. This was obviously a breach to the agreement between the corporation, state, and Cherokee Nation, and the former two demanded that an expert “review off-site disposal options,” following the Sequoyah County Times.

However, Sequoyah Fuels refused and started to store the waste in the on-site location. This has generated a big debate between the company and the residents of Gore, where the site is, as well as those of the Cherokee Nation. Gore City Administrator Horace Lindley stated firmly: “We don’t want this. We’re not going to take this sitting down.”

“The Cherokee Nation is a staunch defender and protector of our natural resources,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “We will not stand idly by and allow the Arkansas River, one of our most precious resources, and the Cherokee community of Gore to be polluted. The Cherokee Nation will fight for the rights of our people to live safely in their communities, and for the rights of our future generations to inherit an environment free of hazardous pollution.”

For now, while the restraining order is in place, the Cherokee Nation and state of Oklahoma, including the resident of Gore are looking for options to make sure that the waste does not affect their rivers. “We will pursue obtaining an expert review of off-site disposal options for the materials and examine the impact to the community and the environment should this waste be disposed of on-site,” said Sara Hill, Cherokee Nation’s secretary of natural resources. “The safety of the environment, our citizens and all people in and around Gore is our highest priority in this matter.”

The Cherokee Nation, Sequoyah County Times

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
DEC 18, 2018
Plants & Animals
DEC 18, 2018
Rival Dolphin Groups Take Turns Sharing Regions, Study Finds
It’s no secret that dolphins are some of the ocean’s most intelligent creatures, and perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s more to be learned a...
DEC 26, 2018
Earth & The Environment
DEC 26, 2018
Costa Rica just broke its own renewable energy record
This past month Costa Rica broke their own 2015 record of 299 days using only renewable energy for electricity: this year, they went 300 days. Known for de...
JAN 13, 2019
Earth & The Environment
JAN 13, 2019
New desalination technology increases efficiency
Desalination technology has a long way to go, as most methods require 10-1000 times more energy than traditional methods of collecting freshwater. However,...
JAN 23, 2019
Plants & Animals
JAN 23, 2019
Researchers Quantify How Much Rainforest Cover Cameroon Can Lose Before Birds Suffer
When it comes to animal conservation, habitat protection is often one of the critical ingredients of success. That said, it should come as no surprise that...
FEB 04, 2019
Plants & Animals
FEB 04, 2019
Butterfly Populations Succeed When Natural Forests Surround Their Grasslands
Pollinating insects are exceedingly vital to the ecosystem they help support, and unfortunately, many of them are in decline – butterflies included....
FEB 11, 2019
Plants & Animals
FEB 11, 2019
Researchers Are Cooling Down Sea Turtle Nests for Conservation Purposes
Climate change impacts all kinds of wild animals, including several varieties of sea turtles – many of which are now recognized by the International...
Loading Comments...