Minnesota Delegation Hears Nevada Opposition To Yucca

Yucca Mountain
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A delegation of Minnesota lawmakers got an anti-nuclear earful from Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn and state and county officials before a scheduled Tuesday tour of the site the federal government has picked for a national radioactive waste dump.

The reaction was mixed among the four out-of-state lawmakers to Monday's meeting with Nevada officials and members of Citizen Alert, an environmental group opposed to the Yucca Mountain project.

Minnesota state Rep. Frank Hornstein, a Democrat from Minneapolis, said he thought Nevada's speakers made a compelling case.

But Republican Minnesota state Rep. Michael Beard said what he heard was, "'Not in my back yard.'"

"Their transportation discussion was overblown," said Beard, who represents the Minneapolis suburb of Shakopee. "They're so against this happening, they're grasping at weak arguments."

Guinn said he hoped Minnesota would be the first state to join Nevada's opposition to the federal government's plan to entomb 77,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain, a desert ridge 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

The governor and officials stressed fears about accidents and terrorist attacks on the nation's most highly radioactive waste if it is shipped to Nevada from 103 commercial reactors and various industrial and military sites in 39 states.

Fred Dilger, Clark County's transportation coordinator, said the Energy Department's transcontinental transportation plan lacked specifics.

The Energy Department last month proposed building a new a 319-mile rail line across Nevada to reach Yucca Mountain by skirting the vast Nevada Test Site and Nellis Air Force Base bombing range.

Minnesota has two nuclear power plants, and Republican state Sen. Pat Pariseau of Farmington said she didn't see the argument about the safety of keeping waste at reactor sites as better than the argument about terrorist threats to nuclear waste transportation.