Las Vegas Sun

August 25, 2019

Currently: 104° — Complete forecast

Nevada official testifies against bill to restart Yucca Mountain

Yucca Mountain

Isaac Brekken / AP

In this April 13, 2006, file photo, an underground train at the entrance of Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

A bill to restart licensing of the mothballed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository ignores that the site is not suitable because of its geology, among other reasons, a Nevada official testified today before a U.S. House subcommittee.

The site about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas is unsuitable “because of its geology and hydrology, its proximity to military aircraft training and testing facilities and its distance from existing mainline railroads,” said Robert Halstead, executive director for the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects.

Halstead testified today before the Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

In a letter to the committee earlier this month, Gov. Steve Sisolak said the state continues to oppose the project on “scientific, technical, and legal merits.”

The bill would weaken Nevada’s due process rights to “challenge documented safety concerns and adverse environmental impacts” in the licensing proceeding, Sisolak said.

In a statement, Nevada Resort Association President and CEO Virginia Valentine said reviving the project would pose a danger for Nevada and every state the radioactive waste would travel through on its way to Yucca Mountain.

Others at today’s hearing spoke in favor of the bill, cosponsored by Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., who has long supported the Yucca Mountain repository.

Austin Keyser, director of political and legislative affairs for the International Brotherhood for Electrical Workers, said union members previously worked on Yucca Mountain and restarting the project would create 2,000 construction jobs for a decade.

All the Democratic members of Nevada’s congressional delegation have introduced the Nuclear Waste Informed Consent Act, a bill to require the Department of Energy to obtain approval from a state’s governor, as well impacted local governments and tribes, before money could be spent on a nuclear waste repository.