View to the south of Yucca Mountain crest showing coring activities in 2006. Nevada officials have been fighting a proposal to store nuclear waste at the site for nearly 40 years. (Courtesy of the Department of Energy)
Over the past two decades, the state of Nevada has filed multiple lawsuits against the federal government to end the Yucca Mountain Project. Now Nevada leaders are hoping a new motion will terminate Yucca Mountain once and for all.
On Tuesday, Gov. Steve Sisolak and the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects announced they filed a legal motion that would allow the state to challenge all federal licensing for the Yucca Mountain site.
If successful, the legal move could provide the basis for a final decision on the merits of disapproving construction authorization for the controversial nuclear waste site, according to Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford.
“Nevadans have long been clear that Yucca Mountain is an untenable and intolerable site for the dumping of nuclear waste, and it is time for this option to finally be rejected,” Ford said in a statement. “My office will fight with every legal option at our disposal to ensure that Nevada does not become the dumping site for this country’s nuclear waste.”
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Federal licensing for the Yucca Mountain Project “is fatally flawed and must be denied,” said Ford’s office. The motion is based on the Department of Energy’s “failure” to obtain control over the land surrounding the site, restrict military aircraft over the site, and address human-caused climate change in the department’s licensing application.
In the motion, state attorneys argue the United States should work on other solutions for the disposal of nuclear waste “without being hindered by fantasy dreams that the Yucca Mountain Project can be brought back to life.”
Congress has denied funding for the Yucca Mountain Project 11 years in a row.
“The proposed Yucca Mountain repository is now an unfunded zombie-like federal project that has staggered around the halls of Congress begging for appropriations support for more than a decade with no success,” read the motion.
Yucca Mountain was first designated a nuclear waste site in 1987, but has faced strong bipartisan opposition by Nevada officials since.
“It is time to take the lessons learned from the Yucca Mountain experiment and chalk them up to experience,” Sisolak said in a statement. “The past three presidential administrations have agreed that Yucca Mountain is unworkable. It is time for this administration and the Department of Energy to follow through and support the case made by Nevada’s leaders, legislators, experts and legal team.”
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The motion, filed before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, also has the support of Nevada’s entire Democratic delegation. Nevada’s Democratic congressional lawmakers re-introduced the “Nuclear Waste Informed Consent Act” to provide state, local and tribal governments with a central role in decisions regarding a permanent repository and storage program.
“Nevada doesn’t use nuclear energy; we don’t produce nuclear waste; and we shouldn’t be required to store it,” said Democratic Rep. Dina Titus in a statement.
Along with the motion filed, the state also launched a website with explanations on the flaws of the project and the policy history that led to the project’s creation.
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