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Concerns over “Bigger” Nevada Nuke Dump

November 10, 2008

Las Vegas, NV – The Bush administration just made Nevada's nuclear waste problem even bigger, according to environmentalists and Native American tribes who are looking to the Obama administration for solutions. Last week the director of the Energy Department's Civilian Radioactive Waste Program said he had given up, and was no longer trying to find a second state in which to locate nuclear waste. Instead, the administration's new plan is to make the Nevada nuclear waste site even bigger.

Jane Feldman with the Toiyabe Chapter of the Sierra Club doesn't find that a good idea.

"So, what they’re saying is that a second nuclear dump is too expensive; what they need to really grapple with is the fact that the first nuclear dump is too expensive — and it's not a good solution."

The Bush administration now says the earliest the nuclear waste repository could open would be the year 2020. Feldman hopes President-elect Obama's pledge to move rapidly to clean, renewable sources of energy will result in a reduced need for nuclear power.

The Energy Department estimates there will be 70,000 tons of nuclear waste by 2010, and says all that and more can fit inside Yucca Mountain. Larson Bill with the Western Shoshone Defense Project says it will be dangerous simply getting that much waste to Nevada, let alone storing it there.

"You know that have to transport that; you look at earthquakes going on, and you know they've got to build new railroad tracks and they haven't got the towns' opinions on where the tracks are going to go. These are issues that concern people and their health and their living conditions."

Bill says the U.S. government should not "be allowed to run over people," and he's hoping the new administration keeps its pledge to move quickly to cleaner energy sources.

Michael Clifford/Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV