Yucca can’t take waste, Nevada lawmakers told | NevadaAppeal.com

Yucca can’t take waste, Nevada lawmakers told

The director of Nevada's Agency for Nuclear Projects told lawmakers on Friday they'll continue the fight to block the Yucca Mountain project at every possible turn.

But Bob Halstead made it clear even though the Trump administration wants to restart the licensing process, Yucca isn't remotely ready to begin accepting shipments of radioactive waste.

"What exists today at Yucca Mountain is only a five-mile exploratory tunnel that cannot be used for waste storage or disposal," he said.

Halsted said Nevada has 218 challenges to the application and plans to submit up to 50 more. He estimated it would take more than 400 hearing days to plow through those challenges plus time for discovery, motions and appeals.

The estimated cost of the proceedings would be $1.66 billion to the energy department, $330 million to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and $50 million to Nevada.

"We expect the full legally mandated proceeding to go five years and cost $2 billion and we expect to defeat (the energy department) on the facts."

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He said the site is unsuitable for geologic storage.

"Fractured rock above and below the repository horizon will allow highly corrosive oxidizing groundwater to transport radioactive material from the waste packages into the water table that flows into Amargosa Valley."

He said that contaminated water would flow toward Death Valley and into Shoshone reservation lands.

In addition, he said shipping routes to bring the waste to Nevada would pass alongside where about half the nation's population lives, exposing them to radiological hazards including major exposures in the case of severe accidents, terror attacks or sabotage. He said the energy department has admitted the release of radioactive material in an urban area could cause $10 billion in cleanup costs and economic losses.

Halstead said 85 percent of the thousands of shipments would go through Las Vegas, in close proximity to dozens of major hotels.