AG wants safety requirements added back in Yucca rules

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Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa has filed a petition asking the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to restore safety requirements she says have been removed from the Yucca Mountain licensing rules.

She said Nevada's leaders "will not rest until this project is totally exposed for the dangerous albatross that it is."

She said the petition asks the regulatory commission to again require that geology serve as the primary isolation barrier for the proposed nuclear dump. That was the original requirement, but supporters including the nuclear power industry have changed the rules so that engineering of the storage casks is now the primary protection from radiation leaks because of earthquake dangers, ground faults, water seepage and other problems at Yucca Mountain.

She said the Department of Energy should be required to show that rather than just meeting some radiation standard, the repository should be required to be "safe" -- a simple standard she said even a child can understand.

She said people have a right to a "reasonable assurance of safety" -- which is the original language in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.

And she said disqualifying factors such as the speed of groundwater travel through the repository site should be restored to the requirements. She said those were recently removed by regulatory commission "contrary to federal statute."

"We hope NRC will do the right thing and amend its rule as we have requested," she said. "If not, we'll ask the courts to do it for us."

The petition asks that all licensing proceedings be suspended until Nevada's petition requests are resolved.

The petition follows a lawsuit filed by Nevada challenging President George Bush's decision to designate Yucca Mountain as the dump site in February and following that with another suit in April arguing that Yucca Mountain violates requirements of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.

The state has also challenged the radiation standard set for determining whether the dump would be safe in a May court filing.

Del Papa, Gov. Kenny Guinn and members of Nevada's congressional delegation made it clear after the Senate voted to override Guinn's veto of the project that they intend to fight it at every step along the way.


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