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Tribes Fear "River of Waste" Flowing to Nevada Nuke Dump

December 12, 2008

Las Vegas, NV – Nevada's Native American tribes are denouncing a federal recommendation to triple the amount of nuclear waste to be sent to the Yucca Mountain Repository. Nevadans learned of the plan this week and Native Americans complain their members have been exposed to nuclear waste since the beginning of the Atomic Age.

Ian Zabarte, secretary of state with the Western Shoshone National Council, says it's happening again with the Energy Department's latest recommendation to congress.

"Three times more waste. We're talking about waste streams from every site in the country that become a river as they approach the Great Basin, and our people will bare 100 percent of the risk from every shipment from every site."

Judy Treichel, executive director of the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force, says the federal government is wrong. She argues scientific evidence shows Yucca can’t even hold the 70,000 tons congress already authorized.

"Yucca Mountain won't hold the statutory limit of waste, so it certainly isn't going to hold more than that - two times, three times, whatever. It's just the wrong site, and putting more waste in the wrong site makes it more wrong."

Under the proposal, nuclear waste would be delivered to the site by rail from every nuclear power plant in the nation. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman says the statutory limit for how much waste can be stored inside Yucca Mountain is not based on technical considerations, so there's room for Congress to up the current cap three-fold.

President-elect Obama has indicated he intends to revisit the entire plan to store nuclear waste inside Yucca Mountain.

Michael Clifford/Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV