United States, A federal judge ordered the state of Utah to stop meddling with a utility consortium’s plans to store nuclear waste on the Skull Valley Goshute reservation.

Judge Tena Campbell largely sided with the consortium Private Fuel Storage (PFS) and the Skull Valley Goshute tribe, which wanted the court to strike down five state laws intended to block the project. She also stopped Utah’s legal attack on the federal government’s authority to license any private waste sites.

The court fight began last year after legislators enacted state laws to outlaw a high-level nuclear waste facility in Utah. It promised fines, jail time and heavy taxes for anyone doing business with a high-level radwaste facility.

PFS filed suit to have the laws deemed unconstitutional. The consortium accused Utah of interfering with the Goshutes’ ability to manage their own resources, upending federal authority over radioactive materials, and hindering the consortium’s rights to free speech, free association, the right to petition the government and the right to legal representation.

A decision could come as soon as December on licensing the storage site, which would be large enough to hold 44,000t of radioactive waste – roughly all the used power plant fuel produced in the last three decades of US commercial nuclear energy production. Casks would be stored above ground on 100 acres leased from the Goshutes.