Gibbons pleased EPA will set Yucca safety standard |

Gibbons pleased EPA will set Yucca safety standard

RENO, Nev. (AP) – The Bush administration will stick with radiation protection standards equal to or stronger than the ones the Environmental Protection Agency was preparing for Yucca Mountain under the Clinton administration, a Nevada congressman said Tuesday.

Aides to Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., said he received the assurances Tuesday from EPA Administrator Christie Whitman.

The EPA is expected to release additional information Wednesday about the safety standards for the proposed nuclear waste dump 90 miles from Las Vegas, the aides said.

”I am pleased that the EPA will be supporting a stringent radiation standard – even more stringent than that of the previous administration,” Gibbons said in a statement.

”They are sticking with the stricter EPA standard instead of the one the Nuclear Regulatory Commission wanted,” said Gibbons’ aide Robert Uithoven.

Uithoven said the EPA standard is 15 millirems of radiation exposure through the air compared with the NRC’s proposed 25 millirems. He said the EPA also would be establishing a groundwater standard of 4 millirems. The NRC opposed any standard for groundwater.

An average chest X-ray equals 10 millirems.

Opponents of the proposed dump have supported letting the EPA set a more stringent standard than one proposed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which would have to license the repository.

Proponents generally supported a looser NRC proposed standard.

Traci Scott, an aide to Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., also credited the Bush administration with ”keeping their promises and letting the EPA set the groundwater standard.”

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., was withholding judgment until he sees the formal standard, his aide David Cherry said.

”It is an initial victory,” Cherry said.

”At least a portion of the battle has been won with the publishing of the rule but now we have to see exactly what the standards are,” he said.

Yucca Mountain is the only site being studied to store 77,000 tons of the nation’s nuclear waste.

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