Yucca Mountain


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Yucca Mountain,

mountain in the SW Nevada desert about 100 mi (161 km) northwest of Las Vegas. It is the proposed site of a Dept. of Energy (DOE) repository for up to 77,000 metric tons of nuclear waste (including commercial and defense spent fuel and high-level radioactive material) presently held nationwide at commercial reactors and DOE sites. The project arose from the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act requiring the DOE to construct a permanent underground nuclear-waste storage facility. Proponents of the use of Yucca Mt. as a repository claim that the area some 1,000 ft (300 m) beneath the mountain is the most viable site available, arid and remote with a deep water table, and that gathering the radioactive material in one location would allow for safer and more efficient and cost-effective protection. Opponents, including the state of Nevada, cite the potential for seepage into area groundwater, the danger of transporting waste to the facility, and the likelihood of the degradation of the storage containers and the occurrence of earthquakes and climate change over thousands of years. In 2002 President George W. Bush officially designated Yucca Mt. as the site for the nuclear waste repository; a move, under the Obama administration, to withdraw the application for the waste site at Yucca Mt. was denied (2010) by a Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel for being contrary to the 1982 law. Regulatory hurdles and certain legal challenges must be surmounted before the facility can be constructed and opened.
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Congress selected Yucca Mountain in 1987 to become the nation's permanent repository for nuclear waste generated by utility power plants and the military.
Then in March, the state of Texas sued several federal agencies claiming the federal government had violated the Nuclear Waste Policy Act by failing to complete the licensing process at Yucca Mountain.
Despite protests to the contrary, Obama put the brakes on Yucca Mountain for purely political purposes.
"I find it strange that the Department of Energy continues to push this idea of Mississippi as an alternative site for Yucca Mountain, Nevada.
But the political football that has been, and to some extent remains, Yucca Mountain, is not the linchpin concerning growth in the nuclear energy sector.
The realistic options for placement of the remaining waste are aboveground storage, which is the current policy, and storage under Yucca Mountain. Every other option has been studied and found wanting.
Yucca Mountain may be the most thoroughly studied parcel of land in the world, but its endless unknowns reveal "only the fragility of our capacity to know." The one certain truth is that we interpret the elusive universe at our own risk, that meaning--however one may confront or pursue it--is inevitably fluid, conditional, and ambiguous.
"All funding for development of the Yucca Mountain facility would be eliminated, such as further land acquisition, transportation access, and additional engineering," according to the budget.
"The Yucca Mountain program will be scaled back to those costs necessary to answer inquiries from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, while the administration devises a new strategy toward nuclear waste disposal," according to a budget summary released in March.
Congress designated Yucca Mountain, NV, as the nation's sole candidate site for a permanent high-level nuclear waste repository in 1987, following years of controversy over the site-selection process.
As a former employee of SAIC and TRW contract companies for the Yucca Mountain Project, I opened the records department at the Nevada test site for the Yucca Mountain Project.