Las Vegas Sun

July 23, 2017

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Sandoval: Feds lack land, water rights for Yucca Mountain

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John Locher / AP

Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., stands near the north portal of Yucca Mountain during a congressional tour Thursday, April 9, 2015, about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval has told federal authorities that the proposed high-level nuclear dump at Yucca Mountain is unsuitable because the government doesn’t have land and water rights it needs in order to proceed with the project.

Sandoval made the notification in a letter to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which was read at a public hearing Thursday in Amargosa Valley during a hearing the site. The hearing focused on a new environmental impact study of the project.

The governor said other solutions must be sought to handle the spent nuclear waste.

“Continuation of the NRC Yucca Mountain licensing process actually impedes progress towards finding workable and expedient solutions by diverting our focus,” said the letter, which was delivered at the hearing by Robert Halstead, director of the Nevada Office of Nuclear Projects.

The NRC says a draft report of the environmental study shows that contamination levels are low and not a danger to humans. But Nevadans have expressed concerns over reports that groundwater from Yucca would carry a small amount of radioactive waste into the nearby town of Amargosa Valley and — if conditions were right — into Native American lands in Death Valley.

Halstead has asked the NRC for a 60-day extension to allow the state to conduct a full review of the environmental report

Halstead said in his prepared remarks that “Nevada will also challenge the scope of the draft (environmental impact report) and its failure to consider relevant new information about events and developments since 2008.”

The NRC held a public meeting Tuesday in Las Vegas on the environmental impacts of ground and other sources of water if the dump is built.

The NRC must decide whether to grant a license to the Department of Energy to proceed with construction.

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