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Gov. Sandoval appoints new executive director to oversee stalled Yucca Mountain waste dump project

By ThisIsReno

By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: Gov. Brian Sandoval today appointed Robert Halstead as executive director of the Agency for Nuclear Projects, the agency responsible for oversight of the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. He will start in the job Sept. 19.

Halstead will replace Joe Strolin, who has been serving as acting director since January.

Robert Halstead will take over as executive director of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects in September.

“Bob Halstead brings over 30 years of experience dealing with federal radioactive waste programs and activities,” Sandoval said. “His extensive, first-hand knowledge of the issues and key actors at the state, federal and local levels will make for a seamless transition in this extremely important position as we continue Nevada’s fight against bringing high-level nuclear waste to our state.”

Halstead was selected from a list of candidates submitted to the governor by the Nevada Commission on Nuclear Projects, as prescribed under state law.

Halstead has served as transportation adviser to the Agency for Nuclear Projects since 1988, serving in a consulting capacity. In addition to reviewing the U.S. Department of Energy Environmental Impact Statements for Yucca Mountain and preparing contentions for the Yucca Mountain licensing proceeding, he has managed studies on transportation feasibility and cost; consequences of sabotage, terrorism, and severe accidents; and risk management and impact mitigation.

Halstead has also represented Nevada in complex technical proceedings with the U.S. Departments of Energy and Transportation and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; testified before congressional committees, National Academy of Sciences boards, the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, the NRC Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste, Nevada legislative committees and Nevada county commissions; and advised affected individuals, community organizations, and Indian tribes.

During his career, Halstead has worked as senior policy analyst for the state of Wisconsin Radioactive Waste Board and as a consultant on nuclear waste transportation and storage for the states of Minnesota, Tennessee, and Texas.

Halstead holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware and a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has also completed required course work for a Ph.D. degree at the University of Wisconsin. He and his wife, Margaret, who is currently an executive with the International Monetary Fund, have two grown children.

Aerial view of Yucca Mountain. / Photo: U.S. Department of Energy

The proposed high level radioactive waste dump at Yucca Mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, is in limbo. President Obama has South Carolina and Washington, two states that have stored nuclear waste, are suing the federal government in an effort to get the project moving forward again.