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Press Release - Matheson Letter Prompts Energy Department Action

Location: Salt Lake City, UT

Matheson Letter Prompts Energy Department Action
Questions Why Contractor Selection Stalled

Salt Lake City, UT-Congressman Jim Matheson today said he is pleased that the Department of Energy is moving forward with the process to select a contractor to begin removal of the radioactive tailings pile on the Colorado River near Moab.

Matheson said his office was notified by DOE that it has issued a Request for Task Proposals for companies to submit bids for managing the project.

"This is one of the concerns I raised in a letter to the Energy Secretary's office last month," said Matheson.

Matheson led a bipartisan, multi-state effort to convince DOE that the 16 million tons of radioactive tailings should be moved away from the banks of the Colorado River, rather than capped in place. The final environmental impact decision adopting that action was issued in 2005. Matheson-in a Sept. 28th letter to Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman -notes that the DOE's Record of Decision says "remediation work would begin in late 2007 and would be completed in 2012."

However, Matheson voiced concerns that the timetable appeared to be slipping, even as evidence about the instability of the huge pile has grown. Matheson asked DOE why it is seemingly behind schedule in choosing a contractor to oversee the clean up at the tailings site.

"In numerous communications between my staff and the Department since May 2006...the target has continued to move," Matheson's letter says. "More importantly, a delayed acquisition strategy threatens to negatively affect the Department's FY2008 budget request and appropriations, and will almost surely further postpone the project."

The DOE is posting the RTP on its web site at

Matheson said the health and safety of Utahns as well as the 25 million downstream users of the Colorado River remains one of his top priorities.

"I hope that DOE also remains committed to expeditiously completing this major project," Matheson said. "Today's announcement is a positive sign."

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