CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A state petition listing more than 200 reasons for not opening a federal nuclear waste dump in southern
Nevada was filed Friday with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by
Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.
Among major concerns highlighted by Masto and other state officials at a news conference in Las Vegas was what they termed an incomplete and inadequate plan for shipping high-level radioactive waste across the country to the Yucca Mountain site 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
Masto also said the U.S. Department of Energy has stated the dump would have "drip shields" to keep waste from contaminating the environment - but those shields have yet to be invented and might not be installed for a century.
"Nevada has been fighting the federal government on this issue for nearly 30 years and will continue all appropriate efforts to prevent this dangerously unsafe facility," Masto said.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is considering a license application from the DOE for the dump. If approved, it would be the first such project of its kind anywhere in the world. The NRC review will take up to four years.
Nevada's petition also contends releases of radionuclides would be greater and occur much earlier than DOE claims; and that whole areas of relevant science have been excluded from consideration, including the potential for greenhouse gas-induced climate change.
Masto said 229 arguments against the dump are listed in the state petition, which runs more than 1,200 pages.
"We needed hundreds of pages just to document the most blatant problems with DOE's application," Masto said. "Although Nevada has known for years about many of these problems, we are approaching a real time of reckoning.
"Yucca Mountain is an unsuitable and unsafe site, and transporting high-level nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain from nuclear power plants and elsewhere is unsafe and unnecessary, especially when the waste can be safely stored where it is now," Masto added.
The Energy Department wants to entomb at least 77,000 tons of spent nuclear reactor fuel at the site. But opponents of the project say they're confident President-elect Barack Obama will make good on a campaign promise to keep nuclear waste from being shipped to Nevada.
U.S. Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid is among Nevada elected leaders who oppose nuclear waste storage in the state.
Nearly $14 billion already has been spent on the repository and the total cost is now pegged at $96.2 billion. The opening date has been pushed back repeatedly and the best-case scenario is now 2020, presuming Congress grants adequate funding - something Reid's opposition has prevented in recent years.
On the Internet: www.state.nv.us/nucwaste.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)