A judge told a company that used to make materials for nuclear fuel rods to stop its plans to bury toxic waste at its plant in Gore.
Attorneys for the Cherokee Nation and State of Oklahoma won a temporary restraining order against Sequoyah Fuels after the tribe said an agreement made more than a decade ago to move the waste off-site wasn't being honored.
The Cherokee Nation's Secretary for Natural Resources said the tribe stepped in when Sequoyah Fuels Corporation told them it was going move the nuclear material to a containment area on its property.
Now, the Cherokee Nation and the State Oklahoma are trying to stop Sequoyah Fuels Corporation from keeping piles of nuclear waste from being buried and stored at its decommissioned plant in Gore.
Components of nuclear fuel rods were made there; the rods were used to fuel nuclear power plants.
Cherokee Nation Secretary for Natural Resources, Sara Hill, said, "This is the most heavily contaminated material on the site."
The Cherokee Nation said the 11,000 tons of nuclear waste poses an environmental risk because of the facility's close proximity to the Arkansas and Illinois Rivers.
Thursday, a judge issued a "temporary restraining order" halting Sequoyah's on-site waste storage.
Hill said, "Today they were preparing to start on-site storage of that raffinate material and the Cherokee Nation and the State of Oklahoma joined together to ask the court to stop them from continuing to store that raffinate sludge on site until we could have a further review of the court to be sure that the settlement agreement was being complied with."
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Sequoyah Fuels stopped its operations back in 1993 and plans to clean the site up were agreed upon and put into motion in the last decade.
The Cherokee Nation said Sequoyah Fuels told them last month it was going to bury the waste on its property in Gore.
"We talked to Sequoyah Fuels about the issues, but we just weren't able to come any kind of an agreement that we felt like was reasonable - that's where we're at, that's why we're in the court system today," Hill said.
The NRC has made several visits to the Gore site. The commission will take over the site in October 2020.
Another hearing over that agreement is scheduled for March, and a judge expected to make another ruling.