Utah Indians and environmentalists are mourning the weekend death of anti-nuclear waste activist Norman Begay and his wife, Shirley.
The Begays were killed in a traffic accident Saturday evening near Shiprock, N.M.The couple's pickup reportedly veered out of control and rolled after being struck from behind by a car. The Begays were killed instantly.
For several years, Norman Begay had been a vocal opponent of plans to dump nuclear waste near the White Mesa Ute Reservation.
In 1994, he and his allies foiled a bid by the U.S. Department of Energy to haul low-level nuclear waste from an old uranium mill site near Monticello to the White Mesa Uranium Mill tailings ponds. The ponds sit adjacent the Begay's Ute community 10 miles south of Blanding.
Recently, Norman Begay spent much of his time fighting a recent Nuclear Regulatory Commission-approved decision to dump "Cotter Concentrate" wastes in White Mesa uranium mill's tailing pond.
Cotter Concentrate consists of the residue of uranium processed and reprocessed to aid World War II America in early atomic bomb production and nuclear experiments.
Norman Begay and others insisted the concentrates being shipped to the area by Denver-based Energy Fuels Nuclear were harmful to residents. He co-authored a letter faxed to President Clinton, asking him to stop the shipments.
According to Winston Mason of Great Avikan House, Begay also uncovered the NRC's coding system to backdate license amendment dates to keep the amendment information off the public register and away from public awareness until long after the nuclear wastes had been disposed.
Funeral is scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m. in the LDS North Chapel in Blanding.