Nevada says DOE must get state hazardous waste permit

LAS VEGAS -- Nevada officials say the Department of Energy acted improperly when it failed to obtain a hazardous waste permit for tons of dangerous metals proposed for storage at the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump.

Bob Loux, Nevada's Nuclear Projects Agency chief, said the state would make that argument in legal papers it plans to file Monday with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.

State officials maintain an estimated 190 million pounds of metal known as Alloy-22, containing chromium, nickel and vanadium, require a state-issued permit for disposal.

Another 310 million pounds of stainless steel, which contains chromium and nickel, also would require DOE to obtain a permit from Nevada environmental officials, they said.

Earlier this year, President Bush and Congress approved the storage of highly radioactive spent fuel rods at Yucca Mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

But state officials contend the bill they approved over Nevada's strong objections does not cover the metals government scientists are relying on to hold this fuel.

The first shipment of nuclear waste could arrive in 2010.

State officials say the final environmental impact statement also lacks an adequate analysis of how spent fuel will be transported across more than 40 states to Yucca Mountain and ignores the metal dangers.

In the state's view, Loux said, the final impact statement is legally defective.

"We had to focus on the major defects," he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "We could have written 200 to 300 pages of defects."

Monday's filing will be the latest move by the state to determine whether the DOE followed proper procedures in deciding to build a repository in Nevada. A ruling in Nevada's favor could delay the project or force Congress to revisit the project considering the hazardous waste issues.

Clark County and the city of Las Vegas are co-petitioners with the state in the appeals case. The case is a consolidation of three lawsuits Nevada has filed challenging the final impact statement, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham's recommendation of the site and guidelines for locating at Yucca.

President Bush adopted the recommendation to build Yucca Mountain in February, and the House and Senate approved it over the veto of Gov. Kenny Guinn in May and July.


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