Nevada AG files suit over Yucca Mountain radiation standards

By Chris Rizo | Oct 10, 2008

Catherine Cortez Masto (D)

CARSON CITY, Nev. (Legal Newsline) -Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto filed a lawsuit Friday, demanding that a federal appeals court reject radiation exposure limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the Yucca Mountain repository.

In papers filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the attorney general said the radiation exposure limits set by the EPA last week fail to protect the environment and the public health.

For the first 10,000 years after nuclear waste is buried at the Yucca Mountain site, the EPA set a 15 millirem standard of radiation exposure. After the 10,000 year period, a standard of 100 millirem would take effect at the facility, where 77,000 tons of radioactive waste would be stored.

"The new EPA standard once again fails to protect the health and safety of Nevada citizens, and the environment," Cortez Masto said in a statement.

The attorney general said the Department of Energy's data shows that water infiltration will corrode nuclear waste packages and radioactivity will leak into Nevada's groundwater, delivering lethal doses of radiation to the public and irreparably contaminate groundwater.

"Instead of working to protect the health and safety of Nevadans and striving to find reasonable solutions to the nation's nuclear waste problem, EPA and DOE are ignoring science in favor of a project which presents unacceptable risks to the public and presents American taxpayers with a $90 billion dollar liability they can ill afford," Masto Cortez said.

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 have tried to block the project, which was originally planned to open in 1996.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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