Nevada Wants the Feds to Kill the Nuclear Waste Disposal Plan
NEVADA – Nevada is pressuring U.S. nuclear authorities to scrap a mothballed plan to bury radioactive waste north of Las Vegas.
The state submitted a document to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday about the Yucca Mountain project. “Fairness involves ending this proceeding if possible.”
The NRC, which governs nuclear power facilities and hazardous material, had no immediate response to the state’s request. David McIntyre, the commission spokesperson, said it would be reviewed.
The letter encourages the government agency to reopen its investigation and stop 40 years of Energy Department attempts to prove Yucca Mountain is a safe place to store nuclear waste from power plants nationwide.
It calls the repository a “unfunded zombie-like federal endeavor” that has begged for funding for over a decade.
$15 billion was spent drilling a 5-mile U-shaped test tunnel and studying whether 77,000 tons of dangerous material could be buried safely for thousands of years.
Some estimates put the eventual cost of establishing the repository at $100 billion, including excavating underground train tunnels and encasing the garbage to avoid leakage into subsurface water sources.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm has spoken on the necessity to create a long-term plan for managing or disposing of hazardous nuclear waste produced and stored in reactors worldwide.
Nevada’s proposal came the same day the agency offered $16 million to encourage “consent-based” site selection and spent nuclear fuel management.
In 1982, the government assured nuclear power firms it would store spent fuel. In 1987, Congress chose Yucca Mountain, a secure piece of a huge federal reserve 100 miles (160 km) northwest of Las Vegas.
After 2010, then-Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid, Congress, and the Obama administration cut funding.
Some rural Nevada lawmakers support the plan and the jobs it could provide. Most of Nevada’s congressional delegation and lawmakers oppose what Democratic U.S. Rep. Dina Titus called a “dangerous plot to dump nuclear waste in Nevada.”
Nevada doesn’t use nuclear energy, produce nuclear waste, or need to store it, Titus said.
Governor Steve Sisolak, U.S. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, state Attorney General Aaron Ford, and U.S. Reps. Steven Horsford and Susie Lee applauded the state’s demand for action. The state established a website highlighting plan dangers and faults.
The licensing procedure is expected to cost $330 million and take five years, despite opposition from the state and others.
The state seeks a “summary disposition” from the NRC, not hearings. Unanswered questions concerning the site’s geology and radioactive material transport would persist.
Nuclear power generates 20% of U.S. electricity and 50% of carbon-free energy. Most of the country’s 93 reactors are east of the Mississippi.
Nevada asked the NRC to study human-caused climate change before halting the Yucca Mountain project.
A recent AP investigation into energy policies showed momentum for the first growth of nuclear reactor construction in more than three decades. Two-thirds of states agree nuclear will help replace fossil fuels.
President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure proposal includes $2.5 billion for advanced reactor demonstration projects.
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