Department of Energy held no Yucca rail line meetings in Lyon County | NevadaAppeal.com

Department of Energy held no Yucca rail line meetings in Lyon County

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer

The Department of Energy is considering using a rail line that passes through the Lyon County communities of Silver Springs and Wabuska for the transport of nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain, but officials didn’t hold a public meeting in that area.

“We held a scoping meeting in Reno,” said Allen Benson, director of External Affairs for the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste. “One could ask why we don’t hold scoping meetings all over the country.”

Benson said the meeting was held in Reno because it was the population center of Northern Nevada.

“We’ve gone far beyond the minimum requirement of the law in order to allow people to give public comments on what we should be looking at in trying to prepare this impact statement,” he said. “There were a lot of locations that were not included.”

Lyon County emergency management director Jeff Page attended the Reno meeting, and said meeting officials didn’t seem to know where the affected communities were located.

“They thought Silver Springs and Fernley were in Washoe County,” he said. “Our concern is folks locally didn’t have the opportunity to comment.”

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Since the session involved discussion of the Mina corridor from Hazen in Churchill County, through Silver Springs, Wabuska and south to Schurz, and didn’t cover concerns about transporting the waste through Reno, Page said he saw no point to holding the meeting in Reno.

Benson said the meetings were designed to look at a rail spur that will connect from Hawthorne to Yucca Mountain, not to discuss the route of the nuclear waste shipments.

He added, “We certainly provide the citizens in the area of the rail spur with the ability to talk. That is the proposed action. This is a very defined project. That’s all we’re talking about.”

He said the Department of Energy held scoping meetings from Nov. 1 through Nov. 27 in Amargosa Valley, Caliente, Fallon, Goldfield, Hawthorne and Reno, but none were held in Lyon County.

Lyon County commissioners and Fernley officials both plan to send a letter of complaint about the absence of meetings in the affected communities.

The Mina route to transport 77,000 tons of nuclear waste to the proposed facility at Yucca Mountain was considered in 1989. However, the Walker River Paiute Tribe would not allow nuclear waste transportation on the track it owns from Wabuska to Schurz. This year, the tribe gave the federal government permission to include the stretch in an environmental impact study.

The other route under consideration is the Caliente corridor in Southern Nevada.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 351.