LAS VEGAS -- Nye County isn't giving up the fight to store nuclear waste in Nevada. The county's officials could get a helping hand from new federal legislation that could allow Yucca Mountain to reopen.
State leaders shut down the site along the California border years ago because of issues, such as safety concerns. The site is about 40 miles north of Pahrump.
But the fight over Yucca Mountain has been dragging on for more than 20 years and although Nye County is hopeful, nearly everyone else in Nevada has been against it.
Nye County commissioners want to be ready if the legislation passes. On Tuesday, they could approve a skeleton crew to get Yucca Mountain up and running, making safety a top priority.
"Is it safe or not? I believe the community needs to know one way or the other from the science," Nye County Commissioner Frank Carbone said. "Until that actually happens, nobody knows the real story."
Former test site workers said the site is safe and are also unconcerned about the transportation of high level nuclear waste past their homes and businesses.
Nye County residents said reopening Yucca Mountain would put people back to work.
"It would be more jobs, that's for sure," former Yucca Mountain worker Jimmy Decker said. "It'd help. That would help any community -- there might be a couple hundred people out there just to mine."
Sen. Harry Reid has long opposed Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste storage site and was instrumental in having the site shut down.
"The Yucca Mountain project is dead," Reid said. "The sooner Republicans accept this, the sooner we can work together to safely manage our nation's nuclear waste in a way that does not involve dumping it in Nevada. I will not back down from fighting efforts to resurrect the ill-conceived project."
Sen. Dean Heller also opposes the project.
"I always have and always will remain opposed to dumping the nation's nuclear waste in Nevada," Heller said. "Yucca Mountain is a threat to public safety and no amount of reassurance from the federal government will convince me or the residents of Nevada otherwise."
Workers on Monday said there is a hiring freeze at Yucca for the next two to three years.