- Associated Press - Friday, February 10, 2017

SALLISAW, Okla. (AP) - The state of Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation are working together in court to stop the permanent disposal of radioactive waste near the Arkansas and Illinois rivers.

The pair obtained a temporary restraining order against the owner of a long-out-of-business uranium plant on Thursday, the Tulsa World (https://bit.ly/2kQfMgP ) reported.

Statements from the Cherokee Nation said the Sequoyah Fuels facility, which converted yellowcake uranium into fuel for nuclear reactors, left tons of “uranium-contaminated sludge” in many “basins, lagoons and ditches at the site” when it closed in 1993.

Cherokee officials said the company agreed in 2004 to spend about $3.5 million to remove the waste and dispose of it off-site. But Sequoyah Fuels recently told the tribe that it couldn’t find a suitable site to dispose of the waste. The company said it intended to put the waste into a permanent disposal cell on-site.

The restraining order will temporarily keep the company from disposing of the waste at the site. Court records said tribal and state officials want their own experts to review options for off-site disposal.

“The safety of the environment, our citizens and all people in and around Gore is our highest priority,” said Sara Hill, the Cherokee Nation’s secretary of natural resources.

According to reports, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission ordered the plant to close after an accidental release of toxic gas caused about 34 people to seek medical treatment in 1992.

Sequoyah Fuels and the company’s law firm didn’t respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.


Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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