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Nevada raises new concerns about Yucca Mountain licensing plan

WASHINGTON — Nevada has detailed fresh concerns about plans to expedite licensing of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear repository in a report that was delivered Friday by the state’s congressional delegation to key House members.

Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., distributed the state’s report to lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce and the House Appropriation committees asking that they review it before moving forward on the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act.

The amendments bill passed out of the Energy Committee on a 49-4 vote last June, and is largely expected to pass in the full House, which has yet to schedule a vote.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has led the state’s opposition to storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, noting that “no amount of monetary benefits can compensate for the coerced selection of an unsafe site.”

In the report, the state said the bill does not address the amount of funding that would be needed for expediting the licensing application by the Department of Energy and the participation of federal, state and local governments in the process before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The state also says in its report that the bill ignores potential adverse economic impacts that could result in developing Yucca Mountain, noting the uncertainty of liability of DOE contractors.

Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., wrote the amendments bill and offered Nevada’s input in the process.

Nye County, where Yucca Mountain is located, supports an expedited licensing process to determine if the site is safe for storage of nuclear wastes generated by power plants. Other rural Nevada counties also support that effort.

A spokesman for Shimkus, chairman of the Energy subcommittee on environment and the economy, was traveling Friday and unavailable for comment.

The state’s report comes as proponents of Yucca Mountain are pressing the Trump administration and the DOE to act on the licensing procedure.

Even if the nuclear amendments bill passes, Congress must approve $150 million in funds sought to begin the licensing process.

The Senate has yet to take up legislation on reviving Yucca Mountain licensing.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7390. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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