Las Vegas – Opponents of reviving the proposed nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain held a panel discussion in East Las Vegas last night to raise awareness about the issue.
The plans were shelved during the Obama administration, but U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has requested $116 million in this year’s budget to restart licensing hearings on the project.
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Emily Woodall, state field director for the Nevada Conservation League, said people need to stay engaged.
“You know, Yucca has been in the background, but it’s becoming a bigger and bigger issue, especially under the current administration,” said Woodall.
Speakers at the event worried that nuclear waste could eventually leak into the water supply, and said potential spills of nuclear material en route to Yucca Mountain could poison the environment and hurt tourism in the state.
Officials in Nye County and 2nd District Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, support the licensing process to determine if it would be safe.
Secretary Perry has said the country needs a permanent repository for nuclear waste. But Woodall noted the list of opponents include the governor, both senators and Nevada’s other three members of Congress, plus local tribal leaders.
“Yucca Mountain is Western Shoshone land, and the tribal leaders have been very outspoken in opposition to Yucca Mountain, as well,” said Woodall.
It is unclear if the money to restart the Yucca Mountain repository will make it into the final 2020 budget. Congress has until September to come to a budget agreement or pass a continuing resolution to fund the government at existing levels.