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September 18, 2019

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Nevada files motion for Yucca application withdrawal

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 – The state of Nevada filed a motion Monday with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, asking it to approve the application of the Department of Energy to pull out of Yucca Mountain.

The regulatory commission will hold hearings in Las Vegas on June 3-4 on the application to withdraw.

The petition, signed by Texas attorney Charles Fitzpatrick, says the regulatory commission “cannot second-guess an applicant’s decision to withdraw a license application.”

Fitzpatrick said the withdrawal must be granted with prejudice so that it could never be filed again. This would prevent the energy department from re-submitting it in the future.

In announcing its decision to pull out, the Energy Department said "developing the Yucca Mountain repository is not a workable option and that the nation needs a different solution for nuclear waste disposal."

It said it was ending its agreement with the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management.

In an affidavit attached to the motion, Bruce Breslow, executive director of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, says the application must be withdrawn so it can never be refiled. Nevada has had to look worldwide for experts in the field to build its case against the dump.

“Expert and consulting contracts cannot be kept in force for some indefinite period and, if the application is re-submitted, Nevada will find it almost impossible to put its scientific team together again,” Breslow said.

Former Gov. Bob List, now a Las Vegas lawyer, urged a legislative committee last week to take a fresh look at Yucca Mountain, saying it could mean a $100 billion boost to the economy. He said scientists could re-evaluate the potential and the safety of the project.

But Breslow said it would not be the economic bonanza that List envisions.

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