Energy secretary: ‘Yucca Mountain will not be a storage place for nuclear waste’

Politics

NORTH LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — During her visit to southern Nevada on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said plans to use Yucca Mountain as a nuclear storage waste facility are off the table.

The site 75 miles northeast of Las Vegas has been the center of legislative and legal battles for decades.

Estimates say there are about 80 sites around the country with an estimated 80,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel, and for nearly four decades, politicians have battled over where to store it all.

Yucca Mountain has repeatedly been floated as a place to store it, though it received no federal funding to do so.

In 2019, former President Donald Trump requested to move forward on the repository project and wanted to restart the federal licensing process to build the nuclear waste dump in Nevada. At the time, he was asking $116 million for the dump in his 2020 budget to the Department of Energy.

Nevada congressional leaders vowed to fight the attempt to build the dump, while the state was involved in a legal battle that aimed at blocking the DOE from shipping weapons-grade plutonium to a site near Yucca Mountain. Over the last 30 years, the government has spent more than $19 billion on this issue. 

During her visit Thursday, Granholm said a commission set up under the Obama administration was tasked with finding the right community to house the spent fuel.

“We’re beginning that process now,” Granholm told the I-Team’s David Charns. “The bottom line for Nevada is that Yucca Mountain will not be a storage place for nuclear waste.”

Granholm added a shipment of the plutonium, made by the Trump administration without the knowledge of then-Gov. Brian Sandoval, is in the process of being moved out of the state. The removal is not expected to be complete until 2026, she said.

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