It wasn’t the San Francisco quake of 1906, but rural Nevada residents — and many folks around the West — were jolted out of bed Thursday morning by a major earthquake.
The 6.0 temblor was centered about 11 miles southeast of Wells in northeastern Nevada. Some buildings in Elko received minor damage, but nobody was injured.
The earthquake is certain to raise fears over the safety of burying nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, a few hundred miles to the south-southwest.
The Department of Energy, of course, insists the nuke dump will be built to withstand major earthquakes — and that even in the event a canister were ruptured, no radioactivity would be directly released into the air or groundwater.
But these reassurances ring hollow — it’s mostly a “trust us” scenario, leaving us at the whim of educated guesses.
In fact, Yucca Mountain is an area of relatively high seismic activity, and seismologists admit that they don’t know exactly what would occur were an 8.0 quake to strike very near the proposed nuke dump.
And as Thursday’s seismic activity near Wells highlights, it’s likely a matter of when, not if.