State Seal From the office of
Governor Kenny Guinn
DATE: December 10, 2001
CONTACT: Greg Bortolin
PHONE: 775-684-5670
FAX: 775-684-7198


Governor, Attorney General seek Yucca Mountain site recommendation postponement

CARSON CITY - Governor Kenny Guinn and Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa today sent a joint letter to Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham requesting that he postpone an apparently imminent Yucca Mountain Site Recommendation.

In the letter, Guinn and Del Papa also urged the Secretary to stay the Department of Energy's recently announced site suitability guidelines, due to the fact that the guidelines fail to ensure geologic isolation of high-level nuclear waste, and permits a "glorified waste package whose setting could be gauged 'suitable' even if sited on the shores of Lake Tahoe."

The letter also states that Nevada intends to seek judicial review of the site suitability guidelines immediately upon their taking effect. In seeking postponement of the site recommendation, the Governor and Attorney General join ranks with the General Accounting Office, whose recent review of the DOE's Yucca Mountain program concluded that DOE is not yet ready to make a site recommendation, and that any such recommendation should be deferred pending the completion of numerous key scientific studies.

"Because the new guidelines form the technical and legal basis for DOE's further review of Yucca Mountain, we are asking the Secretary to immediately stay the effective date of the guidelines pending judicial review," Guinn said.

Attached to the letter is an affidavit of Dr. Victor Gilinsky, a former commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner and a prominent physicist. According to Gilinsky, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act contemplated geological isolation of nuclear waste and not a system of engineered barriers as currently proposed by DOE.

In addition to the findings of the GAO report, the Inspector General has determined that DOE's outside lawyers had undisclosed conflicts of interest that may taint many, if not all, of DOE's supporting documentation.

"The current site suitability guidelines are clearly legally and technically invalid," Del Papa said. "It is clearly inappropriate and unwise for the Secretary to proceed at this time, particularly in light of technical defects in the site identified by the National Academy of Science, the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board and others."

The Site Suitability Guidelines are scheduled to take effect on December 14, 2001. Guinn and Del Papa are asking Secretary Abraham to notify them of his decision to move forward or to grant their request for a stay by no later than December 14.