Trump Transition Team Explores Restarting Yucca Mountain Nuclear Dump
YUCCA MOUNTAIN, Nev. – The Trump transition team raised a few eyebrows in Nevada this weekend when they signaled an interest in restarting the project to put in a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, a hundred miles northwest of Las Vegas. They asked the Department of Energy about any legal barriers to reviving the repository for high-level nuclear waste, which has been mothballed since 2011 when the Obama administration cut off funding.
Matthew McKinzie, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said there were more than 300 challenges to the license application the last time around, and more would be on the horizon.
"That's a huge amount of time and money to do that legal work to address those challenges," he said. "And I don't think the Yucca Mountain Project will prevail in court."
McKinzie said the new administration would have to reconstitute a huge team of experts across multiple agencies and submit an entirely new application since the design has changed. The project has faced stalwart opposition from many leaders in Nevada, including local tribes and Senator Harry Reid, who is retiring.
Supporters of Yucca Mountain point to the billions already spent on the project and say failing to secure our nuclear waste is not an option. McKinzie said the decades-old project is still in its infancy, lacking the actual tunnels to store the waste and the rail system to bring it in.
"It's not as if those billions have produced a facility that is ready to go if it wasn't for some politicians," he added. "That's not the case. There's a long way to go to develop the site if it can be licensed. Which I don't think it can be licensed."
The Department of Energy first began studying Yucca Mountain, which is adjacent to the Nevada nuclear test site, back in 1978.