Keep an eye on Repository Development

Thank goodness Nevada's congressional delegation isn't quite as cynical as we are when it comes to the Yucca Mountain Project, now officially known as the Office of Repository Development.

Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign and Reps. Jim Gibbons and Shelley Berkley demand to know why Yucca Mountain workers who raise doubts about the integrity of the work being done there are summarily fired or transferred out of quality control.

They're seeking investigations by the General Accounting Office and Department of Energy after the Las Vegas Review-Journal brought the whistleblowers' plight to the public eye earlier this week.

The sense of inevitability about the whole thing does, sometimes, overwhelm us.

We predict the GAO will issue a report critical of the handling of the two workers. We also predict the report will be ignored everywhere but Nevada.

As for the DOE, we are cynical enough to assume the response is already being drafted before anyone even begins to ask the tough questions.

That's because we've seen it all before.

Reid, Ensign, Gibbons and Berkley have seen it all before, too. But we elected representatives to do their best to make the DOE play fair, so we're heartened to see they still have the fight in them.

The DOE, by the way, is celebrating its 25 birthday this month. And a GAO estimate says there is still another 18 years before the first nuclear waste is deposited in the repository we will continue to call Yucca Mountain.

In between are a court battle and a licensing application before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. So it's not over yet.

Missteps like firing whistleblowers and allegedly losing critical data, another matter the lawmakers want investigated, can only help Nevada's cause in those forums. Perhaps there are reasons to keep our heads up, after all.


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