The Moapa Band of Paiutes and the Sierra Club have filed suit in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas to ensure that when the Reid Gardner Generating Station closes down, the area around it will be cleaned up.
The lawsuit filed on Thursday August 8 claims that the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Clean Water Act have both been violated over the years by dumping that has compromised the health of nearby residents and threatens the drinking water of millions.
Governor Brian Sandoval in June signed legislation to close the coal-fired power plant, which sits next to the Moapa River Reservation. Nevada Senate Bill 123 provides for closure by 2017 but does not address cleanup, the Sierra Club said in a statement announcing the lawsuit, which seeks a court ruling to ensure that plant owner NV Energy Inc. cleans up as it pulls out. The company was bought in May by investor Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings.
“We are all looking forward to the retirement of the Reid Gardner coal-fired plant that has for decades polluted our Reservation,” said Vickie Simmons, a leader of the Moapa Band of Paiutes’ committees for health and the environmental, in the Sierra Club statement. “And for the sake of our families’ health, we must ensure that the toxic waste from the power plant is fully cleaned up. The safety of our community and the future of our children depend on it.”
The plaintiffs allege that for years the power plant has illegally dumped contaminants into the Muddy River, which feeds the Lake Mead reservoir in back of the Hoover Dam. That reservoir provides drinking water to more than two million people, the Associated Press noted.
The Moapa Paiute have been protesting the coal plant and its adverse health effects for years, and has made inroads into solar power that paved the way for this closure.
"Now, we have to find out what kind of remediation they're going to do — a complete restoration, a conversion to gas or some other type of project," Tribal President William Anderson told the Associated Press. "To us, the ultimate goal would be to remove everything and put the land back the way it was. We'll be able to come to come closure after almost 50 years."