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From Mon Jun 2 11:50:46 1997
Date: Mon, 2 Jun 1997 09:21:17 -0700 (PDT)
From: Michael Mariotte <>

June 2, 1997

Dear Friends across the U.S. and the world:

Attached is a letter we intend to send to U.S. NRC Chair Shirley Jackson, the other NRC Commissioners, and the Board of Directors of Urenco on June 30, 1997. On May 2, 1997, an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board ruled that the siting of Urenco's proposed Louisiana Energy Services uranium enrichment plant violates U.S. environmental racism and environmental justice laws and regulations, and denied the license to LES -- only the second time in history a nuclear license has been denied.

This is a truly historic decision, and the most important judicial decision I have ever been part of. If upheld on appeal (and LES has appealed the decision), it will govern the siting of any and every nuclear facility in the U.S. from now on. Its principles, clearly considered and explained, can be used in any country. The decision is available on NIRS website ( or by mail from NIRS for $12 copying and postage.

Those of you who know me know that I have spent much of my last 8 years on this effort. We started with a small multi-racial group eight years ago, whose aim was to learn more about LES and its plans. It evolved into a small multi-racial group (the two communities directly affected total only 250 people, the entire region only 5,000 people), which has turned the world's nuclear industry on its head. Those of you who don't know me, please trust me, this is the single most important environmental judicial decision I can remember. No longer will multi-national corporations be able to simply build whatever they want wherever they want: from now on, local communities will have a say too.

I am asking all of you to sign on to this attached letter. It is absolutely essential that we have as many groups and individuals, worldwide, on this letter as possible. We MUST let the NRC know that the whole world is watching. Please let us know if you will sign by e-mail (, fax: 202-462-2183; or phone: 202-328-0002, by June 26. And please distribute this letter through your own networks.

I also hope that some of you in Urenco countries would agree to publicize this letter in your country, when the letter is released June 30. We want to put as much pressure on Urenco as possible. Let me know how we can help you with that.

Thank you, and, as I hope you know, when there are issues in your region or country for which you want help from others, just let us know; we'll do everything we can do to help.

If you can sign on, please provide your name, organization, city, state, and/or country. Please don't assume we know who you are. Thank you so much.

Michael Mariotte

June 30, 1997

Hon. Shirley Jackson
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555

Dear Chairwoman Jackson:

On May 2, 1997, an NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board issued a historic decision that has reverberated around the world. As you know, the ASLB denied a license to Louisiana Energy Services for its proposed private uranium enrichment plant next to Center Springs and Forest Grove, Louisiana, on the grounds that its siting process and the NRC review of that process are indicative of environmental racism and violate the President's 1994 executive order on environmental justice.

Not only did this well-reasoned and clearly long-contemplated decision affirm to the public that an NRC license is not automatic, but must be earned -- something which NRC history would not suggest -- but that the NRC understands the implications of environmental racism and will seek to ensure environmental justice.

As the ASLB stated, environmental racism is rarely overt, is usually denied, is rarely intended, and is nearly always rationalized. Yet the disproportionate impact of the siting of hazardous facilities must be considered and weighed. It is clear, upon reading this decision and related depositions, that race was a factor in LES' siting decision -- there is no other rationale for a siting process which rejected one site because there were "nice homes" along a lake, and chose a final site based on an "eyeball" assessment of a low population area, when any other eyeballs would have seen well-maintained homes and churches, and vibrant long-standing communities -- communities, which, by the way, the NRC would not even put on the map for its Draft Environmental Impact Statement. This was a complete embarrassment for U.S. citizens and the U.S. government.

These issues reach beyond the LES case. Environmental racism and injustice are endemic in our society, and in much of the world. That is why President Clinton issued the 1994 executive order. And that is why the NRC must uphold its ASLB's decision. Reversal of this decision now would send a message to all Americans that it is literally impossible to protect their homes and communities from hazardous facilities -- that all a company or consortium requires is deep enough pockets and a reservoir of patience and their license eventually will be granted on appeal, no matter how unnecessary the project or how faulty their approach to siting and licensing. Further, reversal of this decision would send a message that the President's executive order is irrelevant, that the United States is not concerned about race bias in hazardous facility siting, and that any well-heeled corporation can trod upon the interests of minority people anywhere it chooses. Finally, reversal of this decision -- which has given such hope across the U.S. and elsewhere -- would signal to the rest of the world that the United States will not enforce its civil rights laws and regulations, so why should any other nation?

This is not an ordinary situation and this is not an ordinary case. The entire nation, and indeed the entire world, is watching intently. This may be the single most important case any NRC Commissioner will ever hear. We beseech you to do the right thing.

We urge you and all the NRC Commissioners to uphold the ASLB's decision in the LES case and send a message to the world that racism and injustice will simply not be tolerated in Louisiana, or anywhere else.

cc: NRC Commissioners
      Urenco Board of Directors

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