Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008 | 2:38 p.m.
Despite the fact that one of the biggest opponents of the Yucca Mountain project is in the hot seat, state leaders are still saying the nuclear waste dump is dead.
During a conference call Thursday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. John Ensign said that supporters of Yucca Mountain will fail in their attempts at using the controversy surrounding Bob Loux’s self-granted bump in salary as a way to get the ball rolling on the project. Loux is the executive director of the Nuclear Projects Agency, which has led the fight against Yucca for decades.
“Let’s just understand that this baby is in the process of being buried,” Reid said. “We haven’t thrown the last load of dirt on it, but we will.”
Last week the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced it would begin the technical review of the lengthy project application. So while senators say that the issue is dead, the ball is still in play.
One of the reasons Ensign said he was not worried is because of the high cost of funding alone. He also touched briefly on presidential politics.
“Even John McCain is talking about reprocessing and recycling the waste. Once that becomes a reality, people will wake up and say Yucca Mountain is not necessary,” Ensign said.
Problems that could result from water tables and earthquakes, in addition to the transportation of waste, are reasons that Reid says supporters of Yucca Mountain are not dealing with reality.
Both Ensign, a Republican, and Reid, a Democrat, said that the restructuring of Loux’s office would be an issue left up to the state. The two U.S. senators just want to make sure that the message of that office remains the same.
“We're too close to killing this project," Ensign said. "Let’s continue to stand together as Nevadans, not as Republicans, Democrats, liberals and conservatives.”