Yucca Mountain layoffs imminent, official warns

The nation’s nuclear waste chief painted a dismal picture Tuesday of the Yucca Mountain Project’s future, one that shows 500 layoffs and casts doubt on submitting a license application this summer.

Given the lack of funding to achieve program goals, the first deliveries of 77,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel probably will not arrive for entombment in the ridge in 2017 because the repository will not be open, said Ward Sproat, director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management.

“There are going to be significant layoffs, several hundred. They’re going to come in waves,” he told Nevada’s Legislative Committee on High-Level Radioactive Waste.

He later told the committee, led by state Sen. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, that “at least 500 people would be removed from the program in the next several months, the majority in Nevada, some in New Mexico from Sandia (National) labs.”

Of the “65 to 70” workers at the Yucca Mountain site, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, where a fence stretches across the entrance to the 25-foot-diameter tunnel that loops through the ridge, “basically all are going to be let go in the next 30 days,” Sproat said.

Project spokesman Allen Benson said the tunnel’s ventilation system was shut down in late December to save on “substantial” electrical bills. The cost at the site for electrical utilities, water and maintenance was $3 million last year.

Sproat said the program staffs some 2,400 full-time positions, but funding cutbacks by Congress of $108 million from the 2008 budget this late in the fiscal year have left him no choice but to pursue layoffs.

The Bush administration requested $494.5 million for the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1. Congress in December approved $386.5 million.

The lack of money probably will push back the Department of Energy’s self-imposed June 30 license application deadline.

“I cannot stand behind the June 30, 2008, date,” Sproat said about the deadline he had set for submitting a license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The submission would start what he expected to be at least a three-year review.

Sproat, a political appointee who predicts he will be fired in 12 months under a new administration, said he hopes the license application will be submitted under his watch.

“I am mildly optimistic, cautiously optimistic, that we will get a license application done, but I just don’t know yet,” he said.

Because of the cutbacks, complete construction of a rail line across east-central Nevada to deliver spent fuel will slip at least two years to 2016. As for construction to be under way in October 2009, “that’s not going to happen,” he said.

“The transportation piece is off the critical path. That’s where we took the resources from” to make up for funding reductions, Sproat said.

And, receipt of the waste in 2017, as planned, isn’t feasible.

“I would say the 2017 date is not achievable given the funding we’ve got,” he said.

Bob Loux, executive director of Nevada’s Nuclear Projects Agency and a critic of the Yucca Mountain Project, said outside the meeting that many of the layoffs will involve contractor personnel whose jobs would end anyway as their roles in the licensing work are completed.

Despite Sproat’s direction to scale back aspects of the project, Nevada is not going to soften in its opposition, Loux said.

Late Tuesday, attorneys representing Nevada filed a 30-page appeal with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that challenged a three-judge panel’s rejection of Nevada’s challenge that a database of 3.5 million licensing documents should not be certified as complete because crucial studies and safety reports are missing or are works in progress.

Without the documents, Nevada would have difficulty completing its review of the licensing data in the required six-month span, the state said.

“For these reasons, the commission should reverse the … board’s decision, strike DOE’s certification and require that DOE may certify only when it has provided all of the core technical documents necessary to permit ‘focused and meaningful contentions,'” the appeal said.

At the committee’s meeting, Loux described a list of more than 25 concerns about the project, including DOE’s repository design being only about 40 percent complete and the agency’s failure to address fully the potential for terrorism and sabotage in transporting nuclear waste across the nation.

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

ad-high_impact_4
News
NSPCA Gets Kittens From LA
Man killed during road-rage incident
Las Vegas police are looking for two men involved in the shooting death of a man outside a 7-Eleven story at Bonanza Road and Maryland Parkway on Nov. 12, 2018. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like