Las Vegas Sun

November 30, 2015

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Nevada nuclear agency hires consultant

Yucca Mountain

The U.S. Energy Department plans to store spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain, an extinct volcano about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

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CARSON CITY – “Our job is to keep Yucca Mountain dead,” says Bob Halstead, administrator of the state Agency for Nuclear Projects.

But serious challenges are coming up in January and February to revive the nuclear dump in Southern Nevada, he told the state Board of Examiners Tuesday.

He asked for and received permission from the examiners board to hire former agency acting director Joe Strolin as a consultant to aid in the fight.

Halstead was appointed in August by Gov. Brian Sandoval when Strolin retired.

And this is the first case under a new law making it tougher to hire former state workers as consultant to the agency.

Halstead said it takes three to six months of training to get into the job as head of the agency that is fighting efforts to bring a high-level nuclear repository 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

President Obama cut off funding for the project and withdrew the proposal to locate the dump in Nevada. But Halstead said the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to revive the issue early next year. And states such as South Carolina and Washington have sued to get Yucca Mountain back on track.

Halstead told the examiners board that Strolin has the experience in conferring with local and western officials including governors. And he is knowledgeable in other areas involving the proposed site for burial of toxic waste.

Halstead said Nevada was in the best position it has been since Yucca Mountain was designated as the site in 1987.

Strolin will be hired at $50,000 for a 12-month contract.

Published reports suggested the federal government spent anywhere from $9 billion to $50 billion in its study.

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