Tribes Protest N Reactor Project on the Hanford site / Public News Service

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RICHLAND, Wash. – A proposed advanced nuclear reactor at the Hanford site is arouse opposition local tribes.

Confederate tribes on the Umatilla Indian Reservation sent a letter to the US Department of Energy saying they did not support X-energy’s small modular reactor proposal.

Mason Murphy, head of the energy and environmental science program for the tribes, said the Hanford nuclear reserve near the Columbia River is partly on land ceded to the tribes under the 1855 treaty.

“For this reason, we predict that small modular nuclear reactors may impact all of the following resources: in particular, state and federally listed plants and wildlife; big game habitat; [and] historic properties of religious and cultural significance as defined in the National Historic Preservation Act, ”said Murphy.

X-energy’s proposal involves cutting-edge nuclear reactor technology, which could produce more than 300 megawatts of power. The Department of Energy has given the company upfront funding of $ 80 million in 2020. The company said the reactors are based on safe, clean and affordable technology.

The Hanford nuclear site was chosen during World War II to produce much of the country’s plutonium for 40 years. It also meant a lot of garbage, which is a concern for the tribes.

Murphy argued that there was no solution for the long-term storage of nuclear waste, some of which has a half-life of 15 million years. He is worried about what will happen if nuclear projects continue to be built there.

“To me, that would indicate that they are likely to continue to develop this nuclear mission, and those resources may never be available, if that is the case,” Murphy argued.

Murphy noted that the Department of Energy is committed to pursuing environmental justice and should consider what that means in this situation.

“Some of these larger clean-up sites like the Hanford site represent some of the biggest sites of environmental injustice,” said Murphy. “I think we really need to make sure that this is taken into account when we start to implement some of these technologies.”

In 2007, the Tribal Board of Directors adopted a policy that there should be no new nuclear power generation at the Hanford site without government-to-government consultation. Murphy added that the Department of Energy has agreed to meet but has yet to set a date.

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