Yucca Mountain

Future of Yucca Mountain

Since 1987, Yucca Mountain has been the sole candidate site for the nation's first permanent high-level nuclear waste repository. Current law provides no alternative repository site to Yucca Mountain, and it does not authorize the Department of Energy (DOE) to open temporary storage facilities without a permanent repository in operation.

While some of my colleagues in the delegation have successfully managed to slow the project through the congressional appropriations process, I do not believe it is a "dead" issue and think it is more likely the repository will eventually come to fruition through a sound scientific process over time. Additionally, the DOE is currently being sued by a number of states to force the opening of Yucca. Rate payers across the nation have been paying into the Nuclear Waste Fund, which has a current balance of $22 billion, to bring Yucca online.

Let me be clear, I do not believe Yucca Mountain should become a simple dumping site for the nation's nuclear waste.  I believe the Administration and Department of Energy (DOE) should keep funding for the project, while Congress works with the DOE to make the location a bastion of nuclear research and reprocessing. Our nation needs a center that includes a nuclear safety best practices center, a training center, and incorporates advancements in technology to better address nuclear spent fuel.  

I understand there are some Nevadans who continue to have concerns over the transport and security issues related to the relocation of nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain. Yet, I am convinced that it will be less difficult to secure nuclear waste in one location rather than many sites all over the country. The National Academy of Sciences that evaluated transportation risks associated with Yucca concluded there were “no fundamental technical barriers to the safe transportation of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in the United States."

The fact of the matter is that Nevadans cannot simply ignore Yucca Mountain and think it is off the table. Many Americans throughout the nation continue to work to open the facility and bring it online. Instead, we should work to dictate the terms of the repository under the best conditions for our state. This facility has the potential to not only be a job creator in Nye County, but also throughout the state if done properly.