Water District Hails Move to Protect Drinking Water

LOS ANGELES--The chairman of the
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Phillip J. Pace, today
applauded an agreement announced by U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson that
will protect the safety of Southern Californians' drinking water by moving a
leaking uranium waste pile.

"On behalf of the nearly 17 million
people in urban Southern California who drink water from the Colorado, we
appreciate your actions," Pace said at the event at Moab, Utah.

"Urban Southern California's Colorado
River Aqueduct begins about 650 miles downstream of Moab, and, due to dilution,
we've seen no appreciable increase in the radioactivity of our source
water," Pace noted. "But Secretary Richardson has heard our concern
over possible future effects, and we appreciate his efforts."

The agreement was signed by Secretary
Richardson, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, Ute Tribal Business Committee
Chairman O. Roland McCook Sr., and Utah Governor Michael Leavitt. It provides
for the Department of Energy to seek Congressional authority and funding to
remove 10.5 million tons of radioactive uranium mill tailings and clean up the
site, about three miles from Moab.

Moving and cleanup are estimated at $300
million and would be regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with
participation by the state of Utah.

As part of the agreement, a portion of
royalties from future energy production on lands being returned to the Ute Tribe
would go to a fund for cleaning up the Moab uranium tailings. Pace also praised
U.S. Reps. Bob Filner (D-Chula Vista), George Miller (D-Vallejo) and Chris
Cannon (R-Utah) for authoring legislation to resolve concerns about the uranium
dump, as well as Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk) for enlisting both Governors
Gray Davis of California and Michael Leavitt of Utah in the effort, and for
leading a bipartisan House briefing on the issue.

Pace also applauded state Sen. Richard
Alarcon (D-Sylmar) for expediting a joint resolution through the Assembly and
Senate that called for immediate removal of the tailings and for the Department
of Energy to take charge.

SOURCE: Metropolitan Water District

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