American Indians protest proposed cat litter plant near Reno |

American Indians protest proposed cat litter plant near Reno

RENO, Nev. (AP) – American Indians staged a protest over a Chicago-based company’s plans for an open pit clay mine and kitty litter plant in a community north of Reno.

Nearly 150 Hungry Valley Indian Colony residents and environmentalists gathered Saturday at a tribal powwow against Oil-Dri Corp.’s proposal.

Tribal members strongly oppose the project, saying it would subject them to noise and dust. Some fear their ancestors’ graves will be harmed.

The mine is planned on about 300 acres of federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management and bordered by a fast-growing residential area 10 miles north of downtown Reno.

Shawna Kirsten said she moved a decade ago to Hungry Valley to raise a family in a healthy environment.

On Saturday, she held her 2-year-old daughter, Justina, who wore a t-shirt with the message: ”Please, give me a fighting chance. I have asthma and allergies.”

”Never in a million years did I think we would have a hazardous, harmful industrial site as our neighbors,” the mother told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Alan Mandell, chairman of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, said the BLM has failed to address American Indian concerns about the project.

”This is an environmental justice issue,” he said. ”This is going to have an impact on this tribal community because of the way we still use our land for medicinal purposes and for cultural purposes.”

Sarah Chvilicek of the Nevada Women’s Lobby said she attended to support the women and children of Hungry Valley.

”This land needs to remain multiple-use and it needs to be protected for the next generation,” she said. ”This affects every community and we need to align together and support each other.”

Oil-Dri officials have defended the project, saying it would generate 100 jobs and be as environmentally friendly as possible.

They say they searched the West for 15 years to find the right clay to make the company’s Cat’s premium Pride Scoop ‘N Flush and other kitty litter.

The key to kitty litter is absorbency, and the Hungry Valley clay has just the right combination of absorbency, density and hardness, they add.

The biggest maker of cat litter in the world, Oil-Dri produced nearly one-third of all that was sold in the United States last year, with total sales of $175 million.

In addition to 100 jobs, economic development officials say the project will generate $100 million over five years for the local economy.

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