LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The unfunded “zombie-like” federal plan to store radioactive waste in Nevada is the target of new actions announced Tuesday intended to permanently end the effort.
The Yucca Mountain project was created in 1987 as politicians forced through legislation designating a Nevada site to receive other states’ nuclear waste. After scientific analysis showed the project was ill-conceived, Yucca Mountain was shelved when funding was taken away and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing process was halted.
Yucca Mountain is about 85 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
The move to permanently kill Yucca Mountain was announced in a flurry of news releases from Democratic state and federal officials who face election challenges in November. News releases came from the state offices of Gov. Steve Sisolak and Attorney Gen. Aaron D. Ford as well as the offices of U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and U.S. Rep. Dina Titus.
Sisolak’s Office describes the opposition to Yucca Mountain as bipartisan, citing the objections of Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Bilbray, who died last year.
The state also created a website to help educate Nevadans who live in Southern Nevada but are unaware of the 45-year history of the Yucca Mountain project. The website features articles and video segments explaining the history and the faults with the project. Issues including groundwater and transportation of waste are highlighted on the website, and the timeline of events is presented.
According to the legal motion, “Uncertainty over whether deadly high-level radioactive waste will be shipped through and placed in Nevada, against its will, has loomed over Nevada’s citizens and economy for 35 years. … Nevada believes strongly that the time has come to put this long-dormant and unproven Federal project out of its misery so that Nevada can devote its attention and resources to other matters and the United States can move on to consider other more viable solutions for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste.”
The motion describes the Yucca Mountain repository as “an unfunded zombie-like federal project that has staggered around the halls of Congress begging for appropriations for more than a decade with no success.”
The motion seeks to reopen the licensing process on a limited basis so three motions for summary disposition can be heard — motions the state now sees as slam-dunk victories:
- The Yucca Mountain licensing application does not explicitly consider climate change.
- The U.S. Department of Energy’s failure to comply with requirements for land ownership and control of the repository site.
- Failure to address risks of aircraft crashes (DOE and NRC staff relied on U.S. Air Force documents that don’t exist.
The state contends that if the motions are approved, it will put an end to the project. And even if the application is not formally rejected, the motions “would make it eminently clear that the application as filed and docketed cannot be granted.