The Inyo Register

Yucca hearings on tap for Inyo

By Julian Lukins
News Staff

September 4, 1999

Locals will get the opportunity to air their views about the proposed high-level nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, Nev., during a public hearing set for Nov. 4 in Lone Pine.

The Lone Pine hearing on the recently-released draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was scheduled to be the only Yucca Mountain hearing in California with 15 other hearings scheduled around the nation.

Andrew Remus, Inyo County's Yucca Mountain watchdog coordinator, said the hearing date was “tentative” but should be confirmed soon. The hearing would likely take place at Statham Hall in the evening, he said.

County officials have 180 days to respond to the DEIS, a 1,600-page document with reams of additional technical date on computer discs. Remus told county planning commissioners Wednesday in Independence that county staff were “going to be scrutinizing the document to ascertain whether the Department of Energy (DOE) has adequately addressed our concerns.”

Locally, concerns have centered on transportation of highly-radioactive waste to the site, just a few miles from Inyo's eastern border, as well as the potential contamination of groundwater in the Death Valley region if a leakage were to occur at the proposed underground “repository.”

Inyo's “independent” watchdog role receives approximately $350,000 per year in federal funding, most of which was being spent on hydrological studies east of Death Valley to try to determine if a link exists between groundwater flows beneath Yucca Mountain and springs in the Death Valley area.

Planning Commissioner Bob Gracey claimed it would not be possible for county staff to “effectively” study the DEIS in 180 days — the period granted by the DOE for public comment.

Describing the scheduled Lone Pine hearing as “very important” the county's acting planning director Chuck Thistlewaite said planning commissioners and members of the county board of supervisors would probably attend the meeting. The five-member board would probably issue a formal response to the DEIS early next year, commissioners were told.