Charges Swirl Around Yucca Mtn. Project

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Foes of a national nuclear waste dump in Nevada
say the project has been crippled by today's revelations that key
scientific documents might have been falsified.
And lawyers for the state are pouncing on the disclosures as key
evidence in the battle over Yucca Mountain.
Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman admitted today that a U-S
Geological Survey employee indicated in e-mails from 1998 to 2000
that he fabricated documentation about water infiltration and
climate at the site 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
One lawyer for the state says the question of whether water will
get into the tunnels and corrode casks containing the nation's
nuclear waste is the very heart of the technical dispute between
the state of Nevada and the Energy Department.
The state's planning to oppose the Energy Department application
for a Nuclear Regulatory Commission operating permit for the Yucca
State Attorney General Brian Sandoval says the federal
government should suspend the plan in the interest of safety.
But a geologist and consultant for Nevada on technical elements
of the project says he wouldn't pronounce the plan dead.
He says project planners will redo work under appropriate
quality assurance -- or try to do quality assurance after-the-fact.