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August 23, 2017

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A nuke waste train to Yucca could pass near Trump’s Las Vegas hotel

Image

Steve Marcus

A view of the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas Friday, Aug. 21, 2015.

President-elect Donald Trump hasn’t said whether he supports or opposes the Yucca Mountain disposal site, but a possible train route to haul radioactive waste from nuclear power plants could come within a half-mile of his Las Vegas hotel.

Robert Halstead, executive director of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, said Friday the Trump hotel is within “800 meters of influence” of the railroad route that could carry more than 77,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste to the site about 90 miles from Las Vegas.

On his campaign stops in Las Vegas, Trump said he was concerned about safety but never made any comments about the burial site, Halstead told the Commission on Nuclear Projects.

Any accident would impact other hotels on the Strip. “We have not heard any formal comment,” said Halstead.

Marta Adams, Nevada special deputy attorney general, said it “could be a catastrophe” if there was a train accident along the route in Las Vegas. It would not only affect the Trump hotel but other properties on the Strip.

Former Sen. Richard Bryan, chairman of the commission, said it should get new commitments from the Nevada Resort Association that it opposes the dump in Nye County. The resort association previously expressed its opposition.

Bryan said he has talked with William Noonan, incoming president of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, which is also opposed to the site.

Nevada has been fighting the federal plan to store spent nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nye County since 1982.

Attorney General Adam Laxalt sent word to the commission that his administration will continue the fight.

Nicholas Trutanich, Laxalt's chief of staff, said the attorney general intends “to stay the course” in fighting the federal government. He said the plan is that Yucca Mountain “will never be built.”

Five lawsuits on various issues in the courts are aimed at stopping the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from going forward.

Commissioners recommended that state officials “get the ear” of the new federal officials in the Trump administration of Nevada’s opposition to the dump.

Halstead said the interim budget bill making its ways through Congress does not contain any money for the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to step up its consideration of Yucca Mountain.

President Barack Obama, at the urging of retiring Sen. Harry Reid, deleted any funds for Yucca Mountain processing since 2011.

There have been suggestions that Yucca would be a processing plant instead of a burial ground for the nuclear waste. It would take a $10 billion subsidy from Congress to get this process going. And the price of uranium is so low now that the industry is not interested.

“It’s not economical,” he told the commission.

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