DOE says radiation from Yucca Mountain would meet EPA standards |

DOE says radiation from Yucca Mountain would meet EPA standards

WASHINGTON (AP) – A Department of Energy study concludes that the proposed Yucca Mountain burial site for nuclear waste would comply with stringent radiation protection standards.

The Environmental Protection Agency said in June that radiation exposure from groundwater near the site must be no more than 4 millirem per year. Overall radiation from all sources from the site would be capped at 15 millirem.

”The results of the site suitability evaluation indicate that it would meet the strict safety standards outlined by EPA,” Energy Department spokesman Joe Davis said Tuesday.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham had previously said he expected that the Yucca Mountain site would meet the requirement. In issuing the preliminary site suitability report, Abraham said the Energy Department is inviting comments from opponents and others with a stake in the nuclear waste dump.

In addition, the department will hold three public hearings in Nevada in September – in Las Vegas on Sept. 5, Armagosa Valley on Sept. 12 and Pahrump on Sept. 13.

”Any decision regarding a permanent repository for this nation’s nuclear waste will be made based on sound science,” Abraham said in a statement. ”The measures I am taking today are designed to assist me in this effort.”

Abraham intends to make a final recommendation to President Bush by the end of the year, Davis said.

A staunch opponent of the Yucca Mountain proposal, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the new report is more evidence of the department’s bias in favor of entombing the nation’s nuclear waste about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

”It confirms that my vote against Spencer Abraham as energy secretary was the right one,” Reid said. ”He has a preconceived notion about where nuclear waste should go.”

The site is the only one in the nation under study as a repository for the nation’s 77,000 tons of highly radioactive commercial and military nuclear waste. The earliest it could begin accepting nuclear waste would be in 2010.

Nevada’s congressional delegation is united in its opposition to the Yucca Mountain proposal as are most of the state’s lawmakers.

Reid said he is counting on increased opposition to the proposal when the Energy Department conducts an environmental review of how to ship waste to the site by truck or rail. He has called attention to recent accidents that involved trains or trucks carrying hazardous materials to point out ”the dangers inherent in shipping nuclear waste through our nation’s cities, towns and communities.”

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