Tribal Officials Concerned Over Uranium Laced Tap Water

May 4, 2012

Tribal officials on the Wind River Reservation continue to seek answers after the Department of Energy announced that uranium was found in some residents' tap water.

DOE officials announced Wednesday evening that data collected last fall indicated that four households near a former uranium waste site had levels of uranium nearly twice the legal limit.

Dean Goggles is executive Director for the Wind River Environmental Quality Commission.

“I think we need to re-test again and look at the results and see what it shows us,” says Goggles. “But for the future for the site itself, we're still looking at it, we still have a lot of questions. I have to answer to the residents down there, so I have to ask those questions too.”

Goggles says his main concern is health and human safety of area residents. There are approximately 40 people using the same water source: a pipeline paid for and installed by the Department of Energy in 1998 after the Department announced that groundwater in the area posed a hazard due to high levels of uranium in the water table and soil.

“Basically DOE is running the show and we're just there but we want to help them, be a partner with them,” says Goggles. “DOE can basically pack up and leave, but we're here.”

From 1958 to1963, Susquehanna-Western Inc., produced yellowcake for the nation's atomic weapons program in the area. When the company ceased production, nearly 2-million cubic yards of uranium waste were left behind, in the open, until the late 80's when they were removed.