Environment News Service (ENS)

DOUBTS ABOUT YUCCA MOUNTAIN'S VIABILITY

Monday, December 21, 1998

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson has released a Viability Assessment on Yucca Mountain, Nevada that says there are "no show-stoppers." In southeast Nevada, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Yucca Mountain is the only site under consideration for permanent disposal of highly radioactive waste from nuclear power generation and nuclear weapons. A decision on the controversial site could come in 2001 when the Energy Department will submit its recommendations to the president. But the viability study finds that Yucca Mountain is less than super-safe. Water moves through the desert mountain faster than originally believed. It is possibile that nuclear radiation could be carried to groundwater and spread across a wide area. The peak releases of radioactivity will be so far in the future, 200,000 years or more, that the reliability of man-made cannisters to contain the waste cannot be relied on. Waste destined for Yucca Mountain is temporarily stored at more than 100 private and government sites around the country. Environmental and consumer organizations on Friday called on Richardson to disqualify Yucca Mountain. "The data within the Department of Energy's Viability Assessment, released today, confirm that the site must be disqualified. Furthermore, the VA snubs necessary public involvement," Michael Mariotte of the Washington, DC based Nuclear Information and Resource Center objected.