Casper Star-Tribune
Casper, Wyoming

Nevada official warns Wyoming about nuclear waste shipments

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) -- A Nevada official says it's time for Wyoming's congressional delegation to realize the potential impact radioactive waste shipments may have on the state.

Marta Adams, Nevada's senior deputy attorney general and a Cheyenne native, said the shipments should worry people throughout Wyoming.

The waste may be trucked through the state under a plan before Congress to consolidate the radioactive material in Yucca Mountain, Nev.

Wyoming Congresswoman Barbara Cubin voted for the bill. The Senate has yet to vote.

If senators approve the bill, Adams said, nuclear waste could travel along the Interstate 80 corridor about every 10 hours for more than 30 years. The shipments would cross through about 44 states.

"This is something that should concern everybody along the route," she said.

But a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., said fears about the number of shipments on I-80 are overstated.

"The Department of Energy hasn't made those decisions yet," press secretary Dan Kunsman said. "It's premature to say there will be however many shipments across Wyoming, or what they will be."

A plan to transport the material will be secondary to approval of a permanent storage place, he said.

The absence of a formal transit route shouldn't ease Wyoming's fears, Adams said.

"I want people to know that it's not something that only affects Nevada," she said.

She is dubious of assurances from the nuclear industry lobby that radioactive material will be transported safely inside thick-walled, impact-resistant carriers.

"But what we're looking at here is an unprecedented shipping campaign. In the first year of Yucca Mountain, shipments would exceed anything we've seen in 40 years.

"We can't assume there will be the normal accident ratio."

Yucca Mountain is at the western edge of the federal government's Nevada Test Site, 90 miles from Las Vegas.

The state of Nevada has filed lawsuits over Yucca Mountain water rights, radioactivity standards and the criteria on which the Department of Energy made its recommendation to store waste there.