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Judge Orders Truckload of Waste to Continue, Despite Indian Resistance

October 17, 1991

FORT HALL, Idaho (AP) _ American Indian tribes turned back a truckload of high-level nuclear waste Wednesday, but hours later a judge ordered the shipment to continue on its way to a federal research installation.

The tribes said they were enforcing what they consider treaty rights giving them jurisdiction over shipments across reservation land.

The truck carrying the nuclear waste from Colorado to the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory returned to the Idaho state line after police from the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes turned the shipment back at the edge of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation.

Officer Ira Waterhouse Jr. also gave the driver a ticket for violating a tribal resolution banning nuclear waste shipments until the Department of Energy reaches an agreement with the tribes on how the shipments will be handled.

″They sort of made us mad and a little upset for ignoring us. They thought they could push us around,″ said Tribal Council member Marvin Osborne. ″We turned them around. We wanted to cite them and stop them, let them know we’re dead serious.″

The 550,000-acre Indian reservation in eastern Idaho is about 80 miles southeast of the engineering laboratory, a federal research installation.

The shipment was the third this month from the decommissioned Fort St. Vrain nuclear power plant at Plattville, Colo., operated by Public Service Co. of Colorado. Shipments of the radioactive waste resumed Oct. 5, three years after Gov. Cecil Andrus declared he wouldn’t allow his state to become a dumping ground and less than a month after the state lost its second court challenge.

In a telephone court hearing, Public Service won a ruling from U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge in Boise to allow the shipment to continue on its way to the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory.

Court officials said Public Service agreed to voluntarily suspend nuclear waste shipments to Idaho until an Oct. 25 hearing before Lodge.

The hearing will be on a lawsuit filed by the Indians on Tuesday. The tribes contend the shipments violate property right terms of the federal government’s 1869 treaty with the tribes, provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Indians’ constitutional rights.

Idaho State Police said the truckload of spent nuclear fuel rods left the state port of entry at Inkom, about 16 miles southeast of the reservation, shortly after Lodge’s ruling and proceeded to the federal laboratory.

After the Indians stopped the truck, state police officers called the attorney general’s office for guidance. Deputy Attorney General Clive Strong told them the state had no jurisdiction.

The main route between the decommissioned plant near Denver and the Idaho laboratory cuts through the reservation.

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