Las Vegas Sun

February 14, 2016

Nevada Republicans don’t oppose nuke dump:

GOP, Demos agree: DOE boss wrong

Nevada's Republican congressional delegation said Friday it does not oppose a high-level nuclear waste dump in Nevada, contrary to remarks made by Department of Energy official Bernard Rusche.

Rusche, director of DOE's Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, said during a televised conference with Gov. Richard Bryan that the three GOP lawmakers didn't want the nation's first nuclear repository in the Silver State.

"On the contrary," Rusche said, "I've spent a fair amount of time working with members of Congress. I would say the governor's statement that there is doubt about where the other members of Congress stand is just not consistent with the message that's been given to me."

"They have made it very clear to me that they object to Nevada being the site of the repository," Rusche said during the MacNeil-Lehrer Report broadcast on KLVX-TV Channel 10 Thursday.

Bryan, however, disputed claims that the GOP opposed the nuclear dumpsite in Nevada and was supported by spokespersons representing the GOP delegation.

"I must say that Mr. Rusche has head what no other Nevadan has heard," Bryan responded, "and that is the position of the Republican delegation saying that they are opposed to a nuclear dumpsite in Nevada. No Nevadan has heard that statement to my knowledge."

The Republicans joined five lawsuits filed against the DOE after President Ronald Regan announced Yucca Mountain, Deaf Smith County, Texas, and Hanford, Wash., as the top three finalists for extensive scientific studies for the nation's first high-level nuclear dump.

A spokesman in Sen. Paul Lasalt's office said the Republican delegation opposed the way the selection process is being handled, not a nuclear repository.

The GOP issued a joint press release saying Nevada was "being railroaded" into accepting the repository that could hold up to 110,000 metric tons of highly radioactive spent fuel and defense wastes, primarily generated in eastern states.

Rep. Barbara Vucanovich spokesman Stephanie Hanna said, "Her specific objections have not been that there should not be a high-level nuclear repository, ever, her objections have been to the process they have used for sitting."

In addition, the Republicans have objected to DOE's selecting three sites for characterization, "subverting" the intent of the Nuclear Waste Repository Act, Hanna said.

"They are locked into a deep geological repository and have not considered all options, such as a deep sea bed or sub-sea bed repositories," Hanna added. The Regan administration has cut further funding to study alternatives to geologic burial of nuclear waste.

"If all those criteria had led to an orderly process that (Yucca) tuff was the safest in the United States, she probably wouldn't object," Hanna said. "However, that is not what has happened."

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