Final day for public comment on Yucca Mountain draws crowd

LAS VEGAS - Opponents of a nuclear waste dump rallied Tuesday with a familiar cry - the project would be bad for the environment, the economy and the people of Nevada.

Activists opposed to the project were on hand Tuesday as the Energy Department held final public comment sessions on an Environmental Impact Study for Yucca Mountain.

John Hadder, an anti-nuclear protester from Reno, said the DOE is supposed to encourage public comment on the issue ''but they're not doing it.''

Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, D-Nev, sided with the protesters, saying since she was elected to Congress Yucca Mountain has taken on new meaning.

''I've always been opposed to the nuclear dump,'' Berkley said. ''But before, it was just a visceral feeling of knowing it was wrong and it shouldn't be in the state.''

She says she has now researched the facts and the dump is bad for Nevada's economy and the safety of its residents.

''How could you possibly allow transporting 77,000 tons of this waste across 43 states to an area that is unsafe to store it?'' Berkley asked. ''This is a political decision that is being rammed down the throats of the people of Nevada.''

Some of the people attending Tuesday's event at the Grant Sawyer State Office Building expressed support for the repository.

Roy Kimball, 55, said Nevada could use the dump as a bargaining tool to obtain federal funding for schools or other needs and it would bring jobs to the area.

''They are going to put it somewhere,'' Kimball said. ''There are other states making money off this.''

''They didn't stop building the Strip because of atomic bombs'' at the Nevada Test Site, he said, responding to the argument the repository would hurt tourism.

Amy Schollenberger, a representative of activist group Public Citizen, said the environmental study prepared by the DOE is too long and difficult to comprehend.

''It's a confusing document with 1,000 pages and three volumes,'' Schollenberger said. ''It refers you to a reference which refers you to a table which refers you to another reference. And you could spend years studying this document and still not know what the DOE thinks will happen at Yucca Mountain.''

Robert Jones, a scientist who helped design the casks that will transport the radioactive waste, contended the length and complexity of the environmental study are needed to explain the project.


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