Nevada AG makes case against Yucca Mountain project

Chris Rizo Dec. 22, 2008, 11:42am

Catherine Cortez Masto (D)

CARSON CITY, Nev. (Legal Newsline)-The Nevada attorney general has filed 229 challenges to a proposal to build a nuclear waste depository in the remote Nevada desert.

State Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who has fought the controversial project at every juncture, said Friday in a petition to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that the Yucca Mountain application is flawed.

Among other things, the attorney general said the project application fails to take into consideration such things as greenhouse gas-induced climate change and the lowering of the topography of Yucca Mountain by erosion.

She also said the U.S. Department of Energy's application contains an inadequate plan for shipping high-level radioactive waste across the country to the site.

"We needed hundreds of pages just to document the most blatant problems with DOE's application," she said. "Although Nevada has known for years about many of these problems, we are approaching a real time of reckoning."

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's review of the U.S. Energy Department's license application for the proposed Yucca Mountain project, where 77,000 tons of radioactive waste would be stored, could take four years.

"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.

In June, the attorney general filed a complaint outlining what she saw as flaws in the Department of Energy's 8,600-page application.

"While the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's decision to docket the Department of Energy's Yucca Mountain License Application comes as no surprise, Nevada is once again disappointed that NRC has made this decision over Nevada's objections that the 8600-page license application is legally deficient," Masto said at the time.

The controversial Yucca Mountain repository is decades behind schedule, causing nuclear waste to pile up at commercial power plants in 39 states, project proponents say.

Since Congress finally approved the project in 2002, Nevada officials, including U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have tried to block the project, which was originally planned to open in 1996.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at

More News