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National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2008

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2008 -- (House of Representatives - May 16, 2007)


Mr. MATHESON. Mr. Chairman, as part of this group of en bloc amendments, it includes an amendment I have offered. It has to do with the uranium tailings pile on the banks of the Colorado River in Moab, Utah.

Now, that may sound like an interesting issue to have in a Defense authorization bill. It is not the first time it has been in a Defense authorization bill. The last time we dealt with this was when Congress was in session in the year 2000, and at that time Congress directed the Department urging them to move this uranium tailings pile.

Make no mistake. This is right on the banks of a major river, and the environmental impact statement that looked at this pile indicated that it is a near certainty that at some point, if it is not moved, it is going to be flushed into the river. And there are 25 million users living downstream of this site.

Now, this mill tailings site was part of our military efforts in the 1950s and 1960s when it came to our nuclear weapons efforts, and quite frankly, while Congress has voiced in the past on this very bill 7 years ago that it should be moved, the Department of Energy has exhibited tremendous inaction. They have not provided information for why there has been a delay. They have completed a longstanding environmental impact statement that resulted in a record of a decision saying they wanted to move it. In that, they said it could be done in 7 to 10 years.

And yet, the Secretary of Energy said just this year it's not going to be until 2028 when this moves. This is an agency that has consistently underperformed, underpromised, has not answered questions about the progress of this project, and that's why I offer this amendment today, so that once again Congress can make its will known, as it has done in the past, in indicating that this pile ought to be moved.

I thank the chairman of the committee, Mr. Skelton, for his cooperation on this issue.


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