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Energy Dept. resurrects Yucca Mountain project

September 20, 2013

Inyo County leaders have directed staff to stay involved in discussions about the resurrection of licensing proceedings for the proposed Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository (above). Local leaders said they want to participate in the discussion without taking a stance at this time. Photo courtesy Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Federal authorities are re-opening the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Repository, asking local governments that may be impacted by the proposed nuclear waste site to offer suggestions on how to proceed.
According to Greg James, the county-contracted attorney who handles all Yucca Mountain matters, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission is reconsidering Yucca Mountain as a nuclear repository site in response to lawsuits filed by the state of Washington and North Carolina after licensing proceedings for Yucca Mountain were suspended in 2009 due to a lack of funding.
Traditionally, Inyo County has taken a passive role in the Yucca Mountain debate, refusing to either support or condemn the project. The county has participated in the debate, raising concerns about how the site could impact Inyo County.
The state of Nevada, where Yucca Mountain is located, has been a vocal opponent of the project. Nevada’s Nye County, which includes the site, has supported the project, along with Washington, North Carolina and other states with nuclear power sites.
dealt mostly with hydrology, as the water table under Yucca flows into Inyo County.
James said the county also raised concerns that authorities did not adequately address the socioeconomic impacts the project would have on Inyo County.
James said 11 out of the county’s 12 contentions were entered as evidence for the Yucca Licensing Review process along with 300 other contentions filed by other impacted local government.
In 2009, the process was stalled due to a lack of funding, prompting the lawsuits filed by Washington and North Carolina.
In August, the NRC issued an order asking all impacted local governments to provide suggestions on how it should proceed with Yucca Licensing.
Nye County has asked Inyo to support it in its efforts to greenlight Yucca Mountain.
James recommended that the county keep abreast of developments, but remain neutral in the debate.
“If the licensing proceedings resume, Inyo County wants to be included as an effected local government,” James said. “If they have new licensing proceedings, they should have them in Las Vegas,” rather than in Washington, D.C., so the governments closest to the proposed project site can attend.
James said the county has about $1.1 million in a Yucca Mountain account – funds the federal government provides to pay for the county’s participation as an affected government.
As the debate moves forward, the Board of Supervisors directed staff to “monitor” the proceedings, “but don’t commit.”

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