Is This the Place?
Tooele County, Utah, is already the hazardous heartland of the United States — the place where the Army tests anthrax and other chemical, nerve, and biological agents, and incinerates half of the nation’s chemical weapons; where the Air Force has its largest bombing and cruise missile ranges; where a private company buries low-level nuclear waste; and where some of the country’s dirtiest industrial polluters spew their stuff. Now, if some members of the tiny Goshute Indian tribe have their way, Tooele County will also be home to 40,000 tons of highly radioactive waste. The waste would be kept on their reservation, 50 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, until a permanent depository is built, most likely at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. The tribe’s arrangement with eight utility companies, which would foot the bill for the $3.1 billion project, is awaiting only the approval of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, because tribes do not have to answer to most state and local regulations. That infuriates other Utahns, who do not want the waste stored in their state.