Ward Valley (USA)

LLW storage planned, heavily disputed by environmentalists and native american population of the region.

In 1998 US Ecology gives up its plan to build a waste dump at Ward Valley !!

Facilities in Ward Valley

plantreactor typconstruction startoperation startshut down
Ward Valley - CaliforniaLLW storage site

The radioactive waste dump proposed for Ward Valley has been defeated. Let's hope this dangerous plan never gets revived.
U.S. Ecology had tried for over a decade to win permits to dump nuclear waste in the ground, above an aquifer with pathways to the Colorado River, on sacred Indian land and on critical habitat for the endangered desert tortoise. In the face of massive public resistance, both the federal government and the State of California have rejected plans to transfer the federal land at Ward Valley to the state for the dump, effectively ending the dump plan.

US Ecology recently lost two more rounds in their litigation marathon to secure an order to re-start the defunct proposal for a radioactive waste dump in Ward Valley near the Colorado River, or to recover up to $162 million in lost costs and profits. The dump was bitterly opposed by the five lower Colorado River Indian Tribes and environmental and social justice groups, who held a successful 113-day occupation to block testing at the site.

On October 24, San Diego Superior Court dismissed a lawsuit brought in May by US Ecology seeking to force California to resume efforts to acquire the Ward Valley site from the federal government so that the dump could be built, as well as costs, lost profits and legal expenses. The judge ruled that Governor Davis' choice not to pursue Ward Valley was completely discretionary and lawful. On November 13, the company appealed the decision, which may have its first hearing in January, 2001.

On November 14, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed a case brought on appeal by US Ecology after it failed to convince a lower court to order the Department of the Interior to transfer the land at Ward Valley from the federal government to California. The court ruled that US Ecology lacked standing to bring the case since California is not part of the litigation.

Following the two adverse rulings, US Ecology admitted, "There can be no assurance that the company will recover its investment or earn a return on the Ward Valley project, since the outcome of litigation cannot be predicted. Failure to recover deferred site development costs would have a material adverse effect on the Company's financial condition."
Greenaction and our allies will continue to monitor the situation and work to make sure there will never be a nuclear waste dump at Ward Valley....so far, so good!

On December 9, 1998 , employees of US Ecology accompanied by a ranger from the Bureau of Land Management disassembled and removed the generator and the weather station it powered from Ward Valley.


Both sides of the long-running debate over a low-level radwaste (LLW) disposal site at Ward Valley in California like a new General Accounting Office (GAO) report on the project, but for conflicting reasons.

Opposition groups said the report is valuable because it has an objective government agency documenting US Ecology's environmental record. According to the GAO, the company began doing business as California Nuclear Inc. in the early 1960s, then merged with Nuclear Engineering Co. (NECO) in 1968, and changed its name to US Ecology in 1981.
NECO operated the Maxey Flats, Ky., site from 1963-77.
In the 1970s, Maxey Flats was among three radwaste disposal sites that reported radionuclide migration sooner than predicted. Sites that were intended to contain waste for thousands of years were showing migration in the first 12 years of operations. In 1977, Kentucky closed the site.

Illinois picked California Nuclear Inc. to operate a LLW site at Sheffield in the mid-1960s. Off-site migration was discovered in 1976, although the radio-nuclides never exceeded the maximum permissible concentration limits. The last waste was buried there in 1978 and NECO tried to terminate its lease with the state a year later following NCR's denial of the company's application to expand disposal capacity.
After 10 years of negotiations, the state and US Ecology entered a settlement agreement.

From 1962-92, California Nuclear operated a LLW facility in Beatty, Nevada. For at least part of 1967-76, some employees opened waste containers and removed materials intended for disposal, like tools, for personal use or sale. Also, bulk liquid radwaste was disposed of routinely at Beatty, despite a prohibition in the site license. The liquid wastes were shipped to Beatty, but were supposed to be converted to solids before being disposed of. However, a solidification process wasn't available until 1975.
A manager of the LLW programm of the California Departnment of Health service said, the environmental abuses are 20 years old and that US Ecology is taking remedial actions at the other sites. He also pointed out that Nevada has accepted permanent custody of the Beatty site.
He said the report's major impact was in debunking the notion that the site could contaminate the Colorado River, a major source of drinking water. It did a marvelous job of pulling all that stuff together and printing it in a way that would lead the unbiased observer to conclude, "hey, this is not an issue".

The GAO report also makes it clear that NRC backed the decision to bury waste in unlined trenches, he said, a practice opponents have criticized.


As Congress moved toward enacting legislation to compel the Interior Department to transfer land for the proposed Ward Valley low-level radioactive waste (LLW) site to California, opponents of the project charged new information on radionuclide transfer from the closed Beatty, Nev., LLW site proves the unsuitability of the California site.
New U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) data on radionuclide leakage from Beatty prove that Ward Valley would also leak.
"Now we have solid data of contamination", said CTBG President Daniel Hirsch, citing recently released USGS data on the plume of tritium and carbon-14 leakage from Beatty.
Lisa Brandt, deputy director and general counsel of the California Health & Welfare Agency, said, the situation at Beatty is "an artifact of the disposal practices in the early days", when liquid waste and unpackaged waste was dumped at the site. "At Ward Valley we are not going to allow any liquid at all."