Las Vegas Sun

May 26, 2024

NUCLEAR WASTE:

Bell tolls for Yucca

President’s budget ends all planning for the dump site, but only Congress can kill it

yuccamain

BLOOMBERG NEWS FILE

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

Sun Topics

Ask the White House whether the Yucca Mountain project is dead and you will be pointed to Page 68 of President Barack Obama’s budget.

The 2010 spending plan starkly lays out a path to end the planned nuclear waste repository 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The dump dispute has generated boxcar loads of documents over the years. Obama’s budget dismisses the project in a few paragraphs.

While running for president, Obama promised to withdraw the application to license the dump to operate, which would deliver an even greater blow. Yet despite his actions, Yucca Mountain won’t truly be dead until Congress changes the law it passed that led to the plan for the dump.

What's on Page 68

TERMINATION: YUCCA MOUNTAIN REPOSITORY PROGRAM

The Administration proposes to eliminate the Yucca Mountain repository program. The Budget provides $196.8 million for the Department of Energy (DOE) to explore alternatives for nuclear waste disposal and to continue participation in the repository license proceeding before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Justification

This proposal implements the Administration’s decision to terminate the Yucca Mountain program while developing disposal alternatives. All funding for development of the facility would be eliminated, such as further land acquisition, transportation access, and additional engineering.

The President has acknowledged that nuclear power is — and likely will remain — an important source of electricity for many years to come and that how the Nation deals with the dangerous byproduct of nuclear reactors is a critical question that has yet to be resolved.

The President, however, has made clear that the Nation needs a better solution than the proposed Yucca Mountain repository. Such a solution must be based on sound science and capable of securing broad support, including support from those who live in areas that might be affected by the solution. Accordingly, Secretary of Energy Chu has announced that he will stand up an expert, Blue Ribbon Commission to evaluate options and make recommendations to the Administration for developing a new plan for the back end of the fuel cycle. The program accounts continue to fund only those costs necessary to participate in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission proceeding and an effort by the Administration to devise a new strategy toward nuclear waste disposal.

Congressional Quotes

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:

“For more than two decades, some have persistently tried to turn a piece of the magnificent Nevada desert just outside of Las Vegas into a dumping ground for dangerous nuclear waste. I am proud to say that today, with the release of President Obama’s budget, that idea is dead.”

Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley:

“President Obama is making good on the promise he made to end Yucca Mountain, and this budget takes us closer than ever before to permanently burying this $100 billion dinosaur in the Nevada desert. Support for Yucca Mountain has collapsed.”

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