A Republican senator isn't giving up hope that highly radioactive military waste will someday be disposed inside Yucca Mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
But a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday such hopes have risen before only to be dashed.
"This isn't the first time Republicans have offered an amendment like this. They're trying to breathe life back into the project," said Reid's spokesman Jon Summers.
An amendment by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., for possible inclusion in the 2010 defense authorization bill, calls for "consideration of Yucca Mountain" for disposing the Defense Department's spent nuclear fuel, special nuclear materials "and other waste arising from the production, storage or maintenance of nuclear weapons" including nuclear weapons components.
Summers noted that similar measures have been proposed in recent energy and climate bills but were never voted on.
"President Obama terminated the project and Senator Reid will continue to leverage his position as Senate majority leader to prevent Yucca supporters from turning Nevada into the nation's nuclear dumping ground," Summers said.
Nevertheless, the NRC is continuing to review the license application that the Department of Energy submitted last year near the end of the Bush administration for constructing a repository at Yucca Mountain.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu wants to gather information from the license review process as a rehearsal for future reviews of disposal sites other than Yucca Mountain. This, Summers noted, is being done while Chu appoints a blue ribbon panel to explore other options for dealing with used fuel from civilian and military nuclear reactors.
Eventually the Yucca Mountain license application will likely be withdrawn, he said.
"At some point when the blue ribbon commission comes back with its findings then we'll have to go back and revisit the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. Again, that's not something that has to be done immediately either. The dump is dead, period," Summers said.
Contact reporter Keith Rogers at krogers @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0308.