A Kindred Spirit

Jim Otterstrom is running an interesting series about his personal history in peace and environmental activism. He had a post about his participation in the Artist’s Peace Tower in 1966 yesterday, and today he writes about the Ward Valley Nuclear Waste protest in 1998. Here’s a short clip:

In the Mojave Desert, some 180 miles east of here, is a place known as Ward Valley, sacred land (isn’t all land sacred?) to the five tribes of American Indians that formed the Colorado River Native Nations Alliance. Ward Valley was chosen by the Bureau Of Land Management as the site for a low-level nuclear waste dump to be operated by U.S. Ecology, a waste management company. Because of Ward Valley’s close proximity to the Colorado River, a source of drinking water and irrigation for millions of people, and U.S. Ecology’s already poor track record at another waste facility, in Beatty, Nevada, that was leaking tritium into the ground, this was obviously a very bad idea.

Determined to stop the project, members of the Colorado River Native Nations Alliance set up an encampment at the site in late 1995, and had a presence of 50 to 200 activists there for the next 3 years. In 1998 the BLM attempted to close the land to the public and remove the activists. Through the efforts of the ‘Save Ward Valley Committee’, based in Needles, hundreds of environmental activists from all over the country, including our family, showed up to give their support and form a human blockade to stop the BLM.

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