LasVegasNow: Plans to fight Yucca Mountain's development back in forefront

Feb 9, 2017
In The News

With a new incoming administration, Nevada's Congressional Delegation is raising an issue with the possibility that Yucca Mountain development could resume.  It would be the country's first nuclear waste dump for spent fuel from nuclear power plants.

However, there are efforts to keep the facility from opening.

"We don't want nuclear waste in our backyards, period," said Annette Magnus, executive director of Battle Born Progress.

"I've done the tour, I've seen it, and I can tell you that in my opinion, it is safe," said Alan Stock, KXNT Radio Host.

The Yucca Mountain debate heated up again because Senator Harry Reid is out of office, and President Barack Obama's term as president will be complete in one week.

The isolated spot in the southern Nevada desert is designated by law to be the nation's only repository for spent commercial nuclear rods, but decades of playing defense by Reid has kept it from opening.

Proponents of the Yucca Mountain development like Stock say that has hurt the prospects of expanding the country's portfolio of nuclear power plants.

"I think the majority of the people in the state are scared witless about it, Stock said.  "They've been fed a bunch of misinformation and lies."

However, opponents like Magnus argue nuclear plants should be self-sustaining so that states like Nevada don't have to share any burden.

"Those states that are producing the nuclear energy should figure out a way to dispose of it," Magnus said.  "It should not be our responsibility to take someone else's waste."

This week, Congresswoman Dina Titus, along with Senators Dean Heller and Catherine Cortez Masto introduced companion bills to the current law.

Patrick Walker, Politics NOW host: "Yucca Mountain, of course, currently the law of the land, so how would this change it?"

Rep. Titus: "This would just amend that bill to say that if you're going to build a repository, you have to get the consent of the people affected."

So where will that waste go, aside from sitting in containers at nuclear power plants?  New Mexico's governor asked the federal government to consider a site in the southeastern part of her state.

Another option is on-site reprocessing, which is standard practice in France.

"There's no need for transportation at that point, you're getting everything you can out of the rods, it's the cleanest, the safest energy around; the cheapest energy around; we've got to do it," Stock said.