Nevada files challenge to revised Yucca Mountain Guidelines
CARSON CITY Governor Kenny Guinn and Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa
announced today the State of Nevada is filing suit in the United States Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia Circuit challenging the Yucca Mountain Siting Guidelines that became
effective on December 14, 2001.
In a letter faxed to Guinn and Del Papa on December 14, Secretary of Energy Spencer
Abraham refused to forego application of the guidelines, which indicates he will proceed towards
a Yucca Mountain site recommendation. The petition for judicial review filed by the Nevada
Attorney General´s Office on behalf of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects challenges the
Department of Energy´s issuance of final site suitability rules. The new siting guidelines change
the criteria for evaluating the suitability of the proposed high-level nuclear waste repository at
In light of the fact the General Accounting Office has stated that the Yucca Mountain
Project should be indefinitely postponed based on the views expressed by Bechtel SAIC, a
private contactor for the Department of Energy, it is irresponsible and irrational for the Yucca
Mountain project to move forward at this time, Gov. Guinn said. There are also issues
surrounding the security and public health risks associated with the transporting of deadly nuclear
waste across the United States that must first be addressed.
According to the GAO study, Bechtel SAIC is credited with stating that DOE cannot
possibly meet its aggressive schedule for Yucca Mountain given the myriad of outstanding
scientific and engineering issues yet to be resolved.
Gov. Guinn said, The very basis of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act is to geologically
isolate high-level radioactive waste from the human and natural environment. Although
Congress amended the Act in 1987 to characterize Yucca Mountain only, Congress retained the
critical provisions requiring geological isolation. The fundamental principle of geologic isolation
is being undermined by DOE´s siting guidelines in an attempt to make Yucca Mountain work,
despite Yucca Mountain´s blatant geologic deficiencies.
The Act requires the Secretary of Energy to terminate all site characterization activities if
the site is determined unsuitable. In 1984 the DOE published the original site suitability
guidelines, which have been changed during the past four months. DOE´s original site suitability
guidelines proved that Yucca Mountain is an unsuitable site to contain the nation´s most toxic
waste. In addition to failing the original geologic isolation criteria, the proposed repository
cannot meet the applicable health and safety standards promulgated by the Environmental
DOE´s new siting guidelines permit DOE to rely primarily´ not on geologic
considerations, as required by law, but on engineered waste packages that could be placed
virtually anywhere, Del Papa said. It is for these reasons that the State of Nevada is obligated
to move forward with this challenge to protect the health and safety of our citizens.