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September 20, 2017

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Yucca Mountain:

Attorney General’s Office: Yucca Mountain hearings should be in Las Vegas


U.S. Department of Energy

Yucca Mountain is located about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

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 »

The state is asking the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to hold its potential hearings about the licensing of Yucca Mountain as a high level nuclear dump in Las Vegas.

The state Attorney General’s Office and the Agency for Nuclear Projects submitted their request Friday to the regulatory commission, which has been ordered by a federal appeals court to resume hearings.

“The state is affected by this proposal and the hearings should be in Las Vegas,” rather than in Rockville, Md., where the federal agency is located, Senior Deputy Attorney General Marta Adams said.

She said the previously abortive hearings were conducted in Las Vegas, where the regulatory commission had set up an office.

The state asks in its petition that the same panel of three administrative judges hold the hearings rather than a new group being appointed. Adams said the state “doesn’t want to be educating a new bunch.”

This panel will make a recommendation to the full regulatory commission.

In its petition, the state also asks the regulatory commission to “reconstruct the electronic database” that contains the documents of all parties in the suit. Adams said that will be expensive for the nuclear commission, but it will give the opponents and proponents of the nuclear dump a chance to see all the documents filed in the proceedings.

Adams said a ruling by the federal commission on the petition is not expected until October or later.

A decision has not yet been made about whether to ask for reconsideration of the 2-1 appeals court decision to resume hearings or to request that the full U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., hear the case.

The deadline to make the request to the federal court is Sept. 27.

In the appeals court case, the court ruled that the commission had violated federal law by not continuing the hearings on the licensing of Yucca Mountain. The commission has $11 million left to conduct the sessions, but the cost is estimated to be $99 million or higher.

The states of South Carolina and Washington, which filed the suit, have nuclear power plants, and high-level waste is piling up in those locations.

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