Yucca-bound nuke waste should not affect Lyon

Lyon County residents shouldn't have to worry about shipments of nuclear waste someday going through the county on the way to the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear repository, a state official said.

Joseph Strolin, administrator of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, said the only way Lyon County will be affected is if the rail spur from Hazen south to Yucca Mountain through Mina was used. That's not possible now that the federal government had rejected the Mina route for the waste.

He said the Walker River Paiute Tribe objected to route, although the U.S. Department of Energy, which is charged with shepherding the Yucca Mountain project, studied the route.

After the study, the tribe, which owns the rail line, rejected the route. Now, he said, the DOE is mostly interested in the Caliente corridor.

Another way Lyon County could see shipments taken through its territory is from Interstate 80 by truck. Strolin said that's not very likely. He said the trucks couldn't use Highway 95 or 95A to get waste south because the state has the right to reject transport along those roads.

Strolin spoke to the Lyon County Commission recently in response to an earlier presentation given by representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy about the Yucca Mountain project.

The DOE has for years worked on a plan that would store hazardous nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in a repository 90 miles north of Las Vegas.

Strolin told the commission the state of Nevada remains adamantly opposed to the site. With Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., as Senate Majority Leader, its opening was not likely.

He said the Yucca project has been slowed because of budget cuts, and due to diminishing industry and political support, was not likely to be built.

"The number-one issue we had from Day One was Yucca was a bad site," Strolin said.

He said the geology was very porous, and Yucca was an area of high seismic and volcanic activity, with magma close to the surface.

Strolin also said there are corrosive substances in the water that affect the canisters the waste would be contained in.

"In order to make it work, DOE, instead of finding a stable geologic area and let geology house it, came up with a patch of engineered chambers to hold the canisters," he said. "But the containers, when subjected to water, developed corrosion in a matter of months."

He said state officials have not met with anyone from DOE.

"We have nothing to talk about," he said.

He said DOE will submit an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in June.

"They are committed to do it before this administration leaves office," he said. "We plan to give 500 reasons why it won't meet standards."

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or call 881-7351.

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