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First step to a solution on nuclear waste: End Yucca Mountain via Las Vegas Sun

There is an interesting phenomenon at the Department of Energy when it comes to the disposal of high-level nuclear waste.

When a new concept for getting rid of waste is proposed, the reaction from the department is: “Our policy is Yucca Mountain. That’s the law.” But when someone suggests abandoning Yucca Mountain, the reaction is: “We can’t do that without a viable alternative.”

This is a circular dilemma, going nowhere.

In 2010, then-Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced that the DOE would withdraw the license application that had been submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, seeking construction authorization for a high-level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. Officials and residents in Nevada were delighted — a wake was held to commemorate the death of the project, in fact.

However, the celebration was premature because Chu’s decision was challenged in court, where it was decided that the project must continue as long as there was funding.

But after years of successfully fighting to block funding for the project, it’s time for a new strategy. It’s time to permanently shut down the project.


If we were to permanently pull the plug on Yucca Mountain, we wouldn’t be alone in stopping a mistake like this. That’s exactly what happened in the United Kingdom.

The first attempt at high-level nuclear waste disposal there went down because the government attempted to force a dump into an area that didn’t want it. The next program sought the consent of the public, but fizzled amid inadequate follow-through. Now, the decision has been made to make a clean break – stop and make a new start.

We should follow that example.


For more than 60 years, through atomic weapons testing and nuclear waste battles, Nevada has been treated unfairly and dishonestly by government agencies. We have spent our time and money fighting to stop the damage being done by weapons tests and preventing a nuclear waste dump that we know will not be safe.

Yucca Mountain should be declared unsuitable because it cannot safely isolate the waste.

It is time for the battle to end, so a new beginning can be possible.

Judy Treichel is executive director of the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force.

Read more at First step to a solution on nuclear waste: End Yucca Mountain 

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