DOE taking last comments on Yucca Mountain nuclear dump plan
LAS VEGAS (AP) – The Energy Department is staying up late Friday to collect last-minute opinions about its proposal to bury the nation’s nuclear waste in Nevada.
A science center in Las Vegas will stay open until midnight with an agency official and a court reporter to record public comment, department spokesman Allen Benson said.
”We want to make sure people have a chance to be heard,” he said.
The center also features displays about the proposed Yucca Mountain project.
At UNLV, former U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan will speak at a Friday evening Yucca Mountain Education Project town hall meeting about the proposal.
Brad Eden, meeting coordinator, said the forum will be non-partisan and educational.
The former senator, a Democrat, is a leading opponent of the Energy Department proposal to bury the nation’s 77,000 tons of radioactive waste at the Nevada Test Site about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
The Energy Department has been exploring the mountain, studying its geology, designing the repository and engineering containment tunnels since the 1980s.
The agency has been collecting public comment on the proposal since May. Formal hearings were held in North Las Vegas, Amargosa Valley and Pahrump. Less formal hearings were held in each county in Nevada and in Inyo County, the California county closest to the site.
About 450 people commented during those sessions, Benson said.
The DOE plan is to ship the nation’s radioactive waste from more than 100 commercial, industrial and military sites around the country to Yucca Mountain beginning in 2010. The nuclear waste would be entombed in a maze of tunnels beneath the mountain for 10,000 years.
Yucca Mountain is the only site under consideration.
Federal scientists and engineers say the project would be safe. Opponents say shipping to the site would be dangerous and that stored nuclear material would eventually leak radioactivity into the environment.
Energy Department Secretary Spencer Abraham is expected to make a recommendation to President Bush by the end of the year.
On the Net:
Yucca Mountain Project Web site: http://www.ymp.gov
Yucca Mountain Education Project Web site: http://library.nevada.edu/yucca/
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