|KENNY C. GUINN|
|OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR|
One Hundred One North Carson Street
Carson City, Nevada 89701
January 10, 2000
The Honorable Bill Richardson
Dear Secretary Richardson;
I am writing to have my concerns on record regarding the recently announced decision by the U.S. Department of Energy to designate the Nevada Test Site as a regional facility for the disposal of low-level radioactive and mixed waste from DOE's nuclear facilities in other parts of the county.
As we have discussed previously, the specter of Yucca Mountain continues to cast a long shadow over the relationship between Nevada and the Department Of Energy. It also has the potential in the short term to impact the work we hope to do together with respect to the Nevada Test Site. It will be difficult to move ahead cooperatively with DOE on other NTS matters when the Yucca Mountain project is going forward despite the strong and compelling objections of the state and its citizens. Nevada's tourism-based economy, which is unique among all other states, is especially vulnerable to impacts associated with the storage, disposal, and transportation of nuclear waste.
I am especially concerned that, at the same time one branch of your department is seeking Nevada's cooperation in the low-level and mixed waste designation for the Nevada Test Site (and, I may add, working in good faith with us to meet the State's concerns), another DOE office (the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management) is attempting to change the rules long-established guidelines in an effort to remove specific suitability criteria Nevada believes the Yucca Mountain site is incapable of meeting.
Mr. Secretary, Nevada has done more than any other state in support of the country's nuclear weapons development, testing, and waste disposal activities. I urge you to continue to assist the state in assuring that adequate health, safety, and environmental safeguards are in place to ensure the safety of Nevada's citizens upon receipt of the additional low-level and mixed waste at the NTS. I also ask that you recognize the dilemma both Nevada and DOE face given a situation where Nevada is, on the one hand, being asked to bear the brunt of low-level and mixed waste disposal for the DOE complex while, on the other hand, efforts continue to force Yucca Mountain on the state against its strong objections.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation and willingness to work with Nevada on these issues.
Kenny C. Guinn