AG files new lawsuit over Yucca Mountain |

AG files new lawsuit over Yucca Mountain

Nevada Attorney General Brian Sandoval filed a new lawsuit against the Department of Energy this week challenging plans for transporting nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain.

The transportation plan announced in April proposes building a new railroad line to move containers of waste 318 miles from Caliente to Yucca Mountain. And the casks containing the waste, according to the lawsuit, would be light-weight truck casks — not the larger, heavier casks that have been extensively tested for safety in case of an accident.

The lawsuit says the plan violates the National Environmental Policy Act, Interstate Commerce Act and regulations set by the Council on Environmental Quality, Surface Transportation Board and the DOE itself.

“With no public input whatsoever, DOE chose a new transport mode that DOE itself had rejected for study because it is the most expensive by a billion dollars, the most impractical, and has the highest health and safety risk,” Sandoval said. “The larger casks would have sharply reduced the number of shipments and are less vulnerable in accidents or terrorist attacks.”

The lawsuit charges that the DOE shouldn’t even be in charge of the project since the law requires the Surface Transportation Board to take that role. It says the Department of Energy didn’t even contact that body before proposing the new rail line – pointing out the DOE has already applied to BLM for the near 310,000 acres of land needed for the new track.

The lawsuit seeks to vacate the DOE’s decisions on the rail line and require a new environmental impact statement instead.

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It was filed in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which has already ruled in favor of Nevada in its challenge of the DOE’s decision to change radiation standards for the Yucca Mountain project.

President Bush signed the order two years ago designating Yucca Mountain as the site for the nation’s high level nuclear waste repository. He did so almost immediately after the DOE recommendation reached his desk despite promising during his 2000 campaign that he would only do so after weighing whether the project met requirements of “sound science.”

Bush supporters maintain he did just that. John Kerry’s campaign and Nevada Democrats charge that Bush misled Nevadans to get their votes in the tight 2000 election race.

Contact Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.