COMMENTARY: Nevada officials engage in more fear-mongering on Yucca Mountain

Despite the “news” that Nevada has raised “new concerns” about Yucca Mountain, a closer look at the actual documents circulated in Washington, D.C., shows nothing but continued fearmongering by the state and a refusal to hear the science (“State outlines more Yucca issues,” Jan. 27, Review-Journal).

There is nothing new in the documents distributed by Rep. Dina Titus to lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce and the House Appropriations committees. It is just more of the state continuing to obfuscate rather than to sit down. Saying the sky is falling helps no one.

These “new concerns” come on an auspicious anniversary. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 intended for the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository to begin receiving waste on Jan. 31, 1998.

The irony of the state’s refusal is that it already receives money for the Uranium 233/235 (U233/235) fissile material, as hot as anything that will be interned in Yucca Mountain. It is buried in Nye County at Area 5 on the Nevada National Security Site. This is the same type of material that the former mayor of Las Vegas said she would lay down in the road and stop from coming through her city.

Well, it is all in the ground now, and the question that needs to be asked and answered by the state: Why is it safe to put this stuff in a 40-foot-deep trench, but storing material at Yucca Mountain under a thousand feet of rock, 700 feet above the water table, is not?

Why do Nevada officials continue to refuse to move forward with the licensing, where they can show their “facts” and these “new concerns”? Are they unsure now, after interring this material in Area 5?

While the state continues to spend millions of tax dollars fighting Yucca, we are all missing out on thousands of jobs and a multibillion-dollar, multi-generational project that would rival the Hoover Dam project.

I am not saying those who oppose Yucca are insincere. But it does seem strange that storing uranium at Area 5 was allowed. State officials should either explain why one is safe and the other is not, or stop scaring the people of Nevada and show us your science.

In addition, state officials continue to say that the spent fuel will travel by rail through a densely populated area of Las Vegas. This is just not so. But if they want to ensure it will not be sent through Las Vegas, then they should sit down at the table, like they did for the waste at Area 5.

There is nothing new to report on the opposition to Yucca. But because of this latest scare tactic, I have to wonder what state officials opposing the project are afraid of when it comes to hearing the science? Is it that they wouldn’t be able to prove their points at the hearings and the years of delay on Yucca will be seen for what they are, sour grapes?

Enough time and money have been wasted on delaying the hearings. It is time for nuclear science to take center stage over political science.

It is past time to put Yucca Mountain to bed through hearing the science. It is a law the state continues to ignore 20 years past the due date.

Dan Schinhofen is vice chairman of the Nye County Commission.

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