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Gov. Sandoval says Nevada does not want nuclear waste, but new poll shows support for research facility


By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: Gov. Brian Sandoval sent a letter to U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today making it clear that he does not support any type of nuclear waste disposal or interim storage at Yucca Mountain.

“There should be no uncertainty or misunderstanding of my position with regard to an interim spent fuel storage site or repository site in Nevada; the state of Nevada does not support the location of any such site within the state and will oppose any attempt to either resurrect the defunct Yucca Mountain project or locate an interim storage facility at Yucca or elsewhere in Nevada,” Sandoval said.

Aerial view of the crest of Yucca Mountain / U.S. Department of Energy photo

“While I am cognizant of the letter sent to you last week from Nye County expressing support for a Yucca Mountain repository, Nye County does not and cannot speak for the state of Nevada,” he said.

Sandoval’s letter is in response to DOE’s plan to conduct a review of the recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future released earlier this year. Those recommendations include a “consent-based” approach to addressing the country’s high level radioactive waste disposal challenge that would require agreement from a potential host state before a disposal facility could be built.

Sandoval’s letter comes just as a new poll commissioned by Nevadans 4 Carbon Free Energy shows support for Yucca Mountain as a research park for the study of reprocessing nuclear spent fuel.

The poll of 500 likely Nevada voters, taken in late February by Public Opinion Strategies, showed 62 percent in support of the research park versus 34 percent who said Yucca Mountain should be closed entirely.

The question posed was whether respondents would prefer to: “Open Yucca Mountain for the study and potential reprocessing of nuclear waste into usable energy because of the jobs and money such a project would bring to the state . . .”

Or: “Close Yucca Mountain altogether to help protect Nevada’s environment.”

“UNR, UNLV, and many national labs around the country are conducting research on how to utilize innovative technologies now available to reprocess spent fuel, so bringing them all together to develop the best technology for commercial reprocessing makes sense,” said Gene Humphrey, the head of Nevadans 4 Carbon Free Energy (NV4CFE), a non-profit organization that supports building the research park. “Since several national laboratories are already doing work at the Nevada Test Site, it seems like the logical location to continue the legacy of nuclear exploration. But this project could generate a new form of clean energy, establish new export industries and create thousands of jobs for Nevadans.”

Recently Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said Yucca Mountain is not dead because members of Congress bring it up on a regular basis.

A statement on Amodei’s congressional website says in part: “Let me be clear, I do not believe Yucca Mountain should become a simple dumping site for the nation’s nuclear waste. I believe the Administration and Department of Energy (DOE) should keep funding for the project, while Congress works with the DOE to make the location a bastion of nuclear research and reprocessing.”

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