Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sequoyah Fuels Files for Relief from Restraining Order


Sequoyah Fuels, through the company’s attorney MacAfee and Taft of Tulsa, have filed for relief from a district court restraining order with the Oklahoma Court of Appeals.

The motion was filed Friday, said Sequoyah Fuels President John Ellis.

Ellis said, “We don’t believe the district court judge (Judge Jeff Payton) has the authority in state court.”

Ellis was referring to a restraining order obtained by the Cherokee Nation in district court.

The Cherokee Nation and State of Oklahoma jointly filed and were granted a restraining order against Sequoyah Fuels by Judge Payton to stop disposing of radioactive waste material in an underground cell on Sequoyah Fuels property, near the Arkansas and Illinois Rivers.

A hearing is slated by March 23 on that restraining order in district court, Sallisaw.

But, Sequoyah Fuels argues, that disposal cell on site had to be approved, and was approved, by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) after years of study and discussion.

According to the Cherokee Nation press release, Sequoyah Fuels has about 11,000 tons of uranium-contaminated sludge to be disposed of safely. In November 2004, the Cherokee Nation and Sequoyah Fuels entered into a settlement agreement in which Sequoyah Fuels agreed to spend $3.5 million to dispose of the waste off-site.

But, Ellis said Tuesday, “We have not been able to find a licensed or other area willing to take the contaminated material. The on-site cell is really the safest.”

Cherokee Nation and others worry the material could wander and contaminate the two rivers and surrounding area. The Cherokees and state wanted an expert to review the off-site disposal options, but the company had begun the on-site disposal.

Ellis said the company was working with the Cherokee Nation and state but were unable to reach an agreement on disposal, so the company began the disposal plan approved by the NRC.

In the meantime, Ellis said, demolition of the main plant continues, along with a small amount of removal of contaminated soil. Those contaminated materials will be held until a solution on disposal is agreed upon. Ellis said the contaminated soil will be deep in the disposal cell, under 25 feet of cover.


Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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