Nuclear waste protesters take message to Las Vegas Strip
LAS VEGAS (AP) – About 40 protesters wore protective gear and wheeled barrels bearing radiation symbols along the Las Vegas Strip to encourage attendance at hearings on the storage of nuclear waste in Nevada.
”Our main message here is to get people out to the meetings,” said Kalynda Tilges, a protest organizer and nuclear issues coordinator for Citizen Alert.
The demonstrators marched Monday among the hordes of Labor Day tourists from the Bellagio resort to the Fashion Show Mall. Many carried signs that read, ”Last chance to tell the DOE: No Yucca Mountain Dump!”
”Nuclear waste never takes a holiday,” said Jennifer Viereck, a protester. ”Those shipments are coming if we don’t do something to stop them right now.”
Yucca Mountain, located 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, is the only site under federal study to accept 77,000 tons of highly radioactive waste from nuclear reactors around the country.
Nevada lawmakers have asked Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham to personally attend the meetings to hear the views of Nevadans and others on the proposed repository.
Their request delivered over the weekend was the latest in a campaign by Nevada officials to pressure Abraham before Wednesday’s public hearing in North Las Vegas on the Energy Department’s scientific research at Yucca Mountain. So far, the secretary has not responded.
Tilges said her group is planning another demonstration before Wednesday’s meeting.
”The DOE is subverting the public process,” she said. ”They’re holding the last public hearing on Yucca Mountain this week with very little notice, and without the required final analysis of the environmental impacts.”
Nevada lawmakers and Gov. Kenny Guinn are also seeking postponement of the public hearings and a 90-day extension of a public comment period following the Energy Department’s Aug. 21 release of a preliminary site suitability report on Yucca Mountain.
The DOE argues that the report’s data has been available to the public in the past, so an extended comment period is not necessary, said spokesman Joe Davis.
Public hearings also are scheduled for Sept. 12 in Amargosa Valley and Sept. 13 in Pahrump.
Abraham is expected to decide late this year whether to recommend Yucca Mountain as a repository site after reviewing the results of site studies and environmental assessments prepared by DOE scientists.
On the Net:
Energy Department: http://www.ymp.gov
Citizen Alert: http://www.citizenalert.org
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