Ely Daily Times


DOE ignores White Pine needs in dump's draft EIS

By Mark Woods
Daily Times Reporter

The federal government has ignored the impact upon White Pine County by the Yucca Mountain High-Level Nuclear Waste Repository in its Draft Environmental Impact Statement, said a nuclear consultant for one county Wednesday.

"White Pine County has been designed by the Secretary of Energy as one of 10 Nevada and California counties which may be affected by a radioactive waste repository at Yucca Mountain," said Dr. Mike L. Baughman, President of Intertech Services Corporation and consultant for White Pine County. But Baughman pointed out the Yucca Mountain Draft EIS does not even consider White Pine as an area that would be affected.

"White Pine County was an effective participant in the Yucca Mountain environmental impact statement scoping process and submitting 17 pages of specific recommendations," Baughman said during a workshop Wednesday on the document.

He explained the DOE did not include the recommendations that White Pine County Commission made in the "Comments to the Scope of the Repository Environmental Impact Statement," which was produced back in November 1995. Those recommendations were submitted well before the Draft EIS was written.

White Pine County may choose to sue to force the DOE to address the impacts, he explained, adding the DOE put only what was required by law into the Draft EIS. By doing this, the DOE did not have to spend the time and effort that would be required to look, into the affects that Yucca Mountain would have on White Pine County. But, the county will be able to take legal action if the Draft EIS is approved, which may require DOE to place the concerns in the final version.

Baughman said that by federal law, transportation of the high-level waste must be on interstate highways or rails to Nevada. Once it arrives in Nevada, the same method of transportation must be used unless the governor decides otherwise. By using Interstate 15 as the primary route, the DOE did not have to prepare the Draft EIS to include the impacts, to White Pine County.

In an interview conducted with Baughman Wednesday, he said that the governor had already conducted studies on alternate routes. The two alternate routes were labeled as A and B and are already in use for the transportation of low-level nuclear waste to the site at Beatty.

The routes start in West Wendover on Alternate U.S. Highway 93 to Lages Junction, south on U.S. 93 through White Pine County until they reach U.S. Highway 6 in Ely. The routes do not separate until they hit State Route 318 where A splits off and follows S.R. 318 southward toward Las Vegas and B continues along U.S. 6 to Tonopah.

Routes A and B, shown above, are those studied by the State of Nevada as routes for high-level nuclear waste into the state from the East. But those were ignored in the draft environmental Impact statement for the Yucca Mountain project because I-15 In Clark County was listed as the primary route for waste coming through Utah or from California.

Click for larger graphic

Baughman said that the governor's choice of route will more than likely be the path of least resistance. In other words, Clark County, which has over a million people and most of the political influence, will create a larger headache for the governor than the almost 11,000 residents of White Pine County.

Baughman led the workshop Wednesday to give residents the opportunity to learn how to prepare for effective comments to the Draft EIS. He provided participants with an overview of federal requirements for the content of environmental impact statements, an overview of what is contained in the impact statement and gave examples of how to prepare and submit written and verbal comments to the Draft EIS.

DOE will sponsor a public hearing on the Draft EIS for the Yucca Mountain Geologic Repository for the Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Waste on Oct. 19. The location is the Bristlecone Convention Center. The time for the first hearing will be 10 a.m. through 1 p.m. with the second hearing from 4-8 p.m.

This hearing will be the only chance residents of White Pine County will have to voice their concerns and make suggestions to the Draft FIS. After the hearing, the only imput allowed will be written comments which will be accepted through February 9, 2000.