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Letters to the editor

Muth’s Yucca musings based on myths

Maybe it’s the rarified air atop his soapbox or perhaps it’s the blinding glare of fool’s gold, but once again Chuck Muth has it all wrong on Yucca Mountain (“Welcome to Yucca Mountain Appreciation Month,” June 6).

The fact that the U.S. Department of Energy has submitted a license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not, as Muth asserts, an indication that new life has been breathed into this moribund project. Rather, it is a last ditch attempt by DOE to forestall the inevitable demise of this ill-conceived federal project.

What DOE has done is foist a fundamentally flawed and incomplete application onto the NRC ” in essence punting the Yucca football to the NRC in the hopes that such a move will keep the project alive through the upcoming change of administrations. DOE is also banking on political and industry pressures to force NRC into accepting the application, even though it is blatantly deficient.

Muth’s call for the State of Nevada to sit down and negotiate with the feds over Yucca is laughable. Nevada is probably closer today to killing this disastrous program outright than it has ever been. The Yucca site is still fatally flawed and cannot isolate deadly radioactive waste. There’s simply nothing to negotiate.

Muth’s myth that the state is somehow losing out on millions of dollars that can be had for the asking is equally laughable. It is a fiction the nuclear power industry has sought to perpetuate for years in an effort to get Nevada to blink in its opposition. I have been closely involved with the Yucca project for over two decades, and I can tell you Muth’s assertion that the federal government once offered hundreds of millions of dollars to the state is pure fantasy.

In study after study the state undertook in the 80s and 90s, the negative impacts and costs of the Yucca project far outweighed any possible benefits that might accrue. Plus, there has never been any basis for negotiations since the Yucca site itself is wholly unsuitable for a nuclear waste repository.

In reality, support for Yucca is drying up everywhere. In Congress, long time advocates like New Mexico’s Sen. Domenici are abandoning ship. In the industry, there are calls to delink the nuclear renaissance from Yucca and pursue at-reactor and interim storage solutions (using volunteer communities, I might add). And Nevada’s Sen. Reid and the congressional delegation are slowly but surely tightening the budgetary noose around the project’s neck. The license application will not re-animate this project, and it likely will not even delay the inevitable for very long.


planning division administrator, nevada agency for nuclear projects