RENO — Nevada officials say they have “grave concerns” over a U.S. Energy Department proposal to store up to 17,000 tons of mercury at the Hawthorne Army Depot.
The 150,000-acre depot in the small desert town 130 miles south of Reno is among seven sites that the department is considering.
“We have very grave concerns with this proposal,” said Allen Biaggi, director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “We’re certainly going to make our concerns about this material known through the environmental review process.”
The Department of Energy is looking for storage sites because mercury exports from the United States will be banned beginning in 2013.
A final site or group of sites will be named Jan. 1 as long-term storage areas for domestically produced mercury.
The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada also opposes shipping the mercury to Hawthorne, spokesman Launce Rake said.
“Nevada should not be the dumping ground for toxic wastes of any kind for the nation. Bringing in more toxic waste is not acceptable to the residents of our state.”
Mercury has been linked to health concerns, including pulmonary and neural disorders.
Biaggi said Nevada already has done its share for the Energy and Defense departments as home of the Nevada Test Site, Tonopah Test Range, Fallon Naval Air Station, Nellis Air Force Base and the Hawthorne depot.
Defense Department plans to ship 4,000 tons of mercury to the Hawthorne depot are pending.