Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010 | 1:31 p.m.
WASHINGTON -- The Energy Department is expected on Friday to announce the formation of a long-awaited panel to study alternatives to the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository – a critical step toward ending the proposed dump project in Nevada, officials said.
The announcement of the panel would come as President Barack Obama is scheduled Monday to unveil his 2011 budget, which is expected to zero out funding for the nuclear waste dump.
Those who want to continue the Yucca Mountain project have criticized the administration for failing to come up with alternatives for the nation’s nuclear waste.
The Energy Department could not immediately confirm that the announcement was being planned.
However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office confirmed that the panel would be announced on Friday.
The panel would study alternatives to the nuclear waste repository and ultimately make a recommendation to the administration.
In his State of the Union address Wednesday night, the president called for “building a new generation of safe, clean, nuclear power plants” – a remark that did not please some of Nevada’s Democrats, including Reps. Shelley Berkley and Dina Titus, who want assurances any waste from the new plants would not got to Nevada.