Nevada governor says no water for nuke dump |

Nevada governor says no water for nuke dump

Gov. Kenny Guinn says Nevada should prohibit the use of water for any nuclear waste storage site in the state and fine the Department of Energy $1 million a gallon for any violation.

His comments followed the federal court ruling that the department’s request for groundwater permits for Yucca Mountain must be handled in a state court, not U.S. District Court.

Guinn said the energy department official’s reactions to that ruling was to say they would just sidestep Nevada water permitting by trucking in any water they need to build and operate the dump.

“They can’t be so cavalier when they come out of a federal court and say, ‘Oh, well, that doesn’t matter, we’ll just truck it in,'” he said.

Guinn said that followed the statement that the Department of Energy wants to start construction of the Yucca Mountain facility “even before the site has been ruled acceptable.”

“I think it’s extremely aggressive for them to say we want to start construction at Yucca Mountain before it has even been approved,” he said.

Guinn said he will propose legislation making use or even transportation of water for Yucca Mountain illegal.

“I am determined not to allow them an end run around this federal court decision,” he said. “We will do everything within our means to see that the Yucca Mountain project dies of thirst.”

He and Conservation and Natural Resources Director Mike Turnipseed questioned whether it would even be possible to truck in that much water. Turnipseed said the department has requested 438 acre feet of water rights for the construction of the repository. That translates to more than 140 million gallons of water a year.

“That’s a lot of trucks,” Guinn said.

U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt dismissed the federal appeal of Nevada’s decision denying use of ground water for Yucca Mountain, saying the issue should be handled in state court.

Assistant Attorney General Tom Patton said he expects the Department of Energy to appeal the ruling to the federal Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco.

As it stands, following Hunt’s ruling, the issue will be decided by District Judge John P. Davis in Tonopah and, presumably, appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Guinn said in any event, Nevada should have a specific law baring use or transportation of water to build or operate any nuclear waste storage facility – permanent or temporary – and stiff fines for any violation.

“I think a million dollars a gallon would be a sufficient deterrent even to the DOE,” he said. “I’m going to initiate the legislation regardless.

“As long as I’m governor, I will explore every option and use every tool at my disposal to prevent a single drop of Nevada’s water being used to create a nuclear waste dumping ground in our state.”

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