DOE to hear from Nevadans on nuclear waste burial plan

The Department of Energy, with the state of Nevada, will hold two public meetings in November to discuss the agency’s plans to haul a ton of uranium waste from the Oak Ridge, Tenn., national laboratory to the Nevada National Security Site for burial.

The meetings, on Nov. 13 at the Cashman Center in Las Vegas and Nov. 14 at the Nevada Treasure RV Resort in Pahrump, resulted from a state and federal working group that agreed to improve outreach efforts on DOE activities at the Nevada National Security Site. Both meetings are from 5 to 9 p.m.

Gov. Brian Sandoval opposed DOE’s plans to dispose of the uranium waste at the former Nevada Test Site, 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Consequently, Sandoval and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz established the working group to improve communications and collaboration on issues involving the Department of Energy and Nevada.

By DOE standards, the waste baked inside 403 steel canisters of once-liquid nuclear fuel remnants reprocessed from a commercial New York power generation facility is considered to be low level.

Yet it contains some of the same atom-splitting materials that have been used in nuclear bombs and one peculiar element that could be used in a “dirty bomb” should it fall into the hands of terrorists.

In a June letter to Moniz, Sandoval charged the department was attempting to exploit a gap in its regulations to classify the waste as “low level.”

Doing so, Sandoval wrote, “sets a dangerous precedent” that could make Nevada the destination for other forms of nuclear waste as the government performs environmental cleanups at former weapons laboratories and factories.

The public meetings will feature experts who can brief the public on disposal options and the history of the unique waste from the Consolidated Edison Uranium Solidification Project.

“Questions are encouraged in advance of the meeting,” the release states, adding that they should be submitted by Nov. 8 to nevada@nnsa.doe.gov.

More information is available at www.nv.energy.gov/llwdisposal.aspx, or by calling 702-295-3521.

Contact reporter Keith Rogers at krogers@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0308.