Trump eyes dormant Yucca Mountain to store nation's nuclear wast - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Trump eyes dormant Yucca Mountain to store nation's nuclear waste

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FILE - In this April 13, 2006 file photo, Pete Vavricka conducts an underground train from the entrance of Yucca Mountain in Nevada. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken, File) FILE - In this April 13, 2006 file photo, Pete Vavricka conducts an underground train from the entrance of Yucca Mountain in Nevada. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken, File)

President Donald Trump's proposed budget for next year includes $120 million to revive Nevada's Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository.

Nevada's Congressional delegation blocked in the past efforts for any new waste to be sent to the Silver State. Before 2011, Yucca Mountain was a long-term dumping site for nuclear waste.

On Thursday, both GOP and Democratic lawmakers from Nevada expressed opposition to the possible resurrection of Yucca Mountain for nuclear waste.

Freshman Congressman Ruben Kihuen, D-NV, said the following:

"Yucca Mountain has been dead for years. Now, President Trump wants to run roughshod over the people of Nevada and throw away funding that could be better spent on infrastructure and creating jobs. Nevada is not a dumping ground for the rest of the country's nuclear waste and our rights shouldn't be trampled over just because President Trump wants to put an unsavory waste facility in our backyard. The Nevada delegation was united in sponsoring the Nuclear Waste Informed Consent Act earlier this year, demanding that states be consulted before nuclear waste repositories can be built by the federal government. I urge President Trump and Secretary Perry to reconsider their reckless and haphazard scheme to throw away federal tax dollars, especially without thinking about the safety and well-being of the people of Nevada."

Sen. Dean Heller, R-NV, who is facing a re-election bid in 2018, issued the following:

“As has been stated in the past, Yucca is dead and this reckless proposal will not revive it. Washington needs to understand what Nevada has been saying for years: we will not be the nation’s nuclear waste dump. This project was ill-conceived from the beginning and has already flushed billions of taxpayer dollars down the drain. Members of both parties keep trying to revive this dead project via the budget and appropriations process, but I will continue to fight those efforts."

Rep. Dina Titus, D-NV, said the following:

“As the Trump Administration continues to crumble, this budget proposes to spread the chaos across the federal government and starve or eliminate the institutions representing our core values. It would invest $120 million on the failed Yucca Mountain boondoggle while slashing programs that feed our homebound seniors, keep our air clean, and educate our children.”

Congresswoman Jacky Rosen, D-NV, gave an over-arching statement on what she calls "Trump's anti-Nevada budget request":

“The President’s 2018 budget request is bad for Nevadans and leaves Nevadans behind. It makes Nevadans less safe by gutting counterterrorism programs for our airports and local law enforcement. The budget would cut $667 million from grant programs, including pre-disaster mitigation grants and counterterrorism funding that would affect McCarran International Airport and the cities of Las Vegas and Henderson. It eliminates grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at UNLV and other Nevada institutions. In 2016 alone, NIH provided $7.38 million in research grants to UNLV, and funding for the Southern Nevada Cancer Research Foundation. The UNLV projects focused on a broad range of critical topics, from research on AIDS to brain cancer. This would hurt our health care sector which has already raised its concerns about the harmful implications of the GOP’s health care repeal bill. Worst of all, the budget requests $120 million in funds for Yucca Mountain to make our state the country’s dumping ground for nuclear waste.”

Heller's colleague in the Senate, Catherine Cortez Masto, D-NV, echoed sentiments from her delegation:

“Trump’s budget will harm Nevada in a myriad of ways and I will vehemently oppose it at every step. Alone, his proposal to invest in Yucca Mountain is a nonstarter – it is dead, it has been for years, and that will not change. Unfortunately, the absurdity of this budget does not stop there: cuts to the EPA will harm Nevada’s natural lands, public health, and economy; cuts to the Department of Education will eliminate essential programs and grants that ensure all children regardless of race, income, or zip code are getting quality education; cuts to Department of Energy will slash initiatives focusing on renewable energy and solar projects, as well as all funding for programs assisting our Native Tribes; housing cuts will push Nevada families, the elderly, and people with disabilities out of affordable housing and into homelessness. And President Trump has shown he is nothing but empty promises and bloated rhetoric when it comes to investing in infrastructure: his budget cuts billions in funding for investment in current and future transportation and water needs, and harms our rural communities when we should be assisting them."

In a sharp contrast to Nevada's federal level response to the proposed budget, the commission chairman of Nye County, where Yucca Mountain is situated, expressed support for Trump's plan. In a statement, Dan Schinhofen said:

"With the news that President Trump has put $120 million in his budget to restart the hearings on Yucca Mountain, the host area Nye County couldn’t be more pleased. We have advocated for the rule of law and National Security now for 30-plus years.

The expected responses from the State’s delegation in Washington D.C. was not surprising, “boondoggle, dumping ground” and “bad science.” One federal representative from Nevada went as far as to say the plan is to “throw away funding that could be better spent on infrastructure and creating jobs.” It is Nye County’s contention this funding will do just the opposite: re-establish well-paying jobs that were lost, create new high-tech and construction jobs and strengthen Nevada’s infrastructure.

It is far past the time for such political science and now is the time for real science to be heard.

The State claims they have 218 contentions that prove it is not safe and we welcome the chance to have them adjudicated by a responsible none partisan office like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Nye County has nine contentions to improve on the project. However, because the State refuses to sit down and talk about this, we are treated to more doom and gloom instead of waiting to hear if it can be built and constructed safely.

The Safety Evaluation Reports (SER’s) released after filing with the DC Court of Appeals, show that the project can be done safely, but the final decision is with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Nine rural counties in Nevada have asked for this, too.

If proven safe, it will be a multi-generational, multi-billion dollar project that will be substantially funded by those ratepayers using nuclear power.

The fund for this project holds over $30 billion now so why does the State keep spending our local tax dollars just to say no before it has been proven unsafe? It is unsafe then welcome the hearings and allow the rule of law to prevail not political gamesmanship.

In matters of National Security, political science should not overshadow nuclear science."

Gov. Brian Sandoval, R-NV, gave his say on Trump's plan:

“Regarding Yucca Mountain, let me make my position clear – for the remainder of my term I will vigorously fight the storage of high-level nuclear waste in Nevada. Any attempt to resurrect this ill-conceived project will be met with relentless opposition, and maximum resources. Continuing down a path that seeks to force this unsafe and unwanted project on Nevada is a waste of time and money and only gets the country farther away from solving its nuclear waste problem. I encourage the President to give the nuclear waste problem the same review process he has successfully applied to flawed contracts and government proposals so far.  The private sector has demonstrated that they can address the problem of spent nuclear fuel more efficiently, at far less expense to the federal government, and they can do so in partnership with willing host states.”

Later Thursday, Sens. Heller and Cortez Masto released a joint letter to the Energy Department and Office of Management and Budget regarding their opposition to the president's plan:

Additional statements will be added as they become available.

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