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Nevada group seeking to turn Yucca Mountain into research site applauds ruling against U.S. energy department


By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: A representative of a group seeking to turn Yucca Mountain into an energy park said a ruling earlier this week halting the withdrawal of the application to license the site as a nuclear waste dump is a huge opportunity for Nevada.

“We are thrilled with the ruling,” said Randi Thompson with Nevadans 4 Carbon-Free Energy. “It’s huge for Nevada.”

The ruling by a panel of federal judges saying the U.S. Department of Energy does not have the authority to withdraw its licensing application of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository is a victory for science over the politics of U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the Obama Administration, she said.

The fact that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s own legal panel rejected the effort to withdraw the application will make it difficult to overturn, Thompson said.

The ruling gives Nevada a rare opportunity to work with the DOE to redo the Yucca Mountain application to focus on research into reprocessing the spent nuclear fuel and using the site for temporary storage in the meantime, she said. Burial of the waste should not an option because the spent fuel has value, she said.

Within the next 50 years, the fuel will be a valuable energy resource and Yucca Mountain is a safe place to store the material until that time, Thompson said.

“If our leaders would just show some leadership on this issue, Nevada could benefit economically, safely and diversify our economy for decades to come,” she said.

The group is advocating a Yucca Energy Park, which would be a research center and potentially a reprocessing center, Thompson said.

Thompson is a Republican candidate running for Assembly District 31.

Nevada’s official position is opposition to the DOE application and the dump. Bruce Breslow, executive director of the state Agency for Nuclear Projects, said the judicial ruling against the application withdrawal will be appealed to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The three administrative judges with the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board said in ruling against the withdrawal: “Unless Congress directs otherwise, DOE may not single-handedly derail the legislated decision-making process by withdrawing the application.”


Audio clips:

Randi Thompson on why ruling is a victory for science over politics:

070210Thompson1 :34 process work through.”

Thompson on how ruling presents an opportunity for Nevada:

070210Thompson2 :21 for our nation.”

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