Ward Valley Status

The Ward Valley site is federal land in the Mojave Desert. With the issuance of a license by the State of California in 1993, sale of the Ward Valley lands to the State is the last remaining administrative task to be completed to enable construction and operation of the disposal facility. In 1992, the State of California applied to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (a branch of the Interior Department) to purchase 1,000 acres of federal land in Ward Valley for use as the site of the Southwestern Compact's regional disposal facility. Unfortunately, the federal government has stalled the land sale for almost five years during which time the Bureau of Land Management completed a highly favorable Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (1993), the State of California issued a license for construction and operation of the Ward Valley disposal facility (1993), the National Academy of Sciences issued a highly favorable report finding the project poses no threat to the Colorado River (18 miles away) as charged by project opponents (1995), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a second favorable "biological opinion" finding that the proposed project will not jeopardize survival of the threatened desert tortoise (1995), and the California Courts upheld the license and Environmental Impact Report (1996).

In January, California Governor Pete Wilson announced that the state would perform additional tests at the Ward Valley site which the Interior Department had demanded. (The National Academy of sciences report -- prepared at the request of the Interior Department -- had recommended additional tests be performed during construction and operation of the facility.) Now the Interior Department is putting-up bureaucratic roadblocks to prevent the state from carrying out the tests Interior had demanded the state do!