The decision, originally scheduled for June, 2001, was delayed during a
conflict of interest investigation. A law firm hired by the Energy
Department to review licensing documents regarding Yucca Mountain
was also lobbying for the nuclear industry. Nevada's congressional
delegation may push for criminal charges against the firm, Winston
December 18, 2001, the
state of Nevada filed a lawsuit in federal court to halt the Yucca
Mountain project. The lawsuit states that the Energy
Department revised Yucca Mountain site guidelines after scientists
discovered the Yuccas might not work as a primary barrier preventing
radioactivity from escaping into the environment from decaying
pellets of spent nuclear fuel.
The state says the DOE
should have stopped the Yucca Mountain program at that point,
but instead the DOE just lowered it's standards and formed new guidelines.
On December 5, 2001, the
General Accounting Office of Congress issued a preliminary
report urging the Bush administration to indefinitely postpone
a decision on building the site beneath Yucca Mountain.
Spencer Abraham called the report "fatally flawed" and is
urging Bush, who now has the final decision, to push ahead.
They are in a hurry to get the project up and running by the year
2010, and for good reason.
The Energy Department is
facing 12 lawsuits totaling $50 billion brought on by nuclear
utilities who are angry because the government hasn't met the
1998 deadline the DOE set for taking away their nuclear
waste. The Energy Department estimates it will end up
paying between $2 and $3 billion, but the GAO says it could be
lower or higher, "... depending on when DOE begins
accepting spent nuclear fuel," their report said.
Thus the rush. The longer they wait to find a dumping
site, the more they (we) will have to pay, and the longer large
quantities of nuclear waste will be sitting all over the
country, threatening the environment, security, etc.
But what about the good citizens of
Nevada? There are definite health concerns to those living in
the area. Yucca Mountain is in a seismically active area and
lies above an aquifer that is the only source of drinking water for
area residents. Ground water has been found to seep through
the mountains. Nevadans worry about the contamination of their
drinking water, and there's also the concern that the groundwater
will corrode the nuclear waste storage containers, making them
susceptible to leakage.
there's the fact that this ground is considered sacred to the
Shoshone and the Pauite. Yucca Mountain is located within
the Western Shoshone Nation; the mountain and the surrounding
area were never deeded to the U.S. government. In fact, most of
the area now used by the U.S. military for nuclear weapons
testing and waste storage was explicitly recognized as Shoshone
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