The Nevada Appeal

OPINION

Nevada prepared to fight in court

Sunday, July 14, 2002

In the aftermath of the United States Senate vote overriding Nevada's veto of the Yucca Mountain project, I am writing to assure you and your readers that the state's ability to defeat the proposed repository is strong.

Now that Nevada's political remedy in the form of the veto has been overridden, Nevada is better able to advance its substantial legal arguments in the courts. As Nevada's chief legal officer, I believe that there is every reason for optimism that Nevada will ultimately prevail and prevent development of this ill-conceived project. However, the publics continued support for the litigation is vital to our efforts.

At present, Nevada is involved in seven lawsuits involving the Yucca Mountain project. Through the efforts of our excellent legal team, five of the lawsuits were initiated by the State to challenge, among other things, the suitability of the Yucca Mountain site itself to contain and to isolate spent nuclear fuel and high-level nuclear waste from the human and natural environment.

Not only are there nearly 300 open-ended technical issues relative to the site identified by neutral third parties, but the most basic legal criteria for building the project are missing. Two additional lawsuits involve federal challenges to the Nevada state engineer's denial of water for the construction and operation of the proposed repository. Each of the state's cases is strong on the merits and portends favorable results for Nevada's cause.

Our expert legal team is currently contemplating filing additional lawsuits and an administrative petition with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In addition, the hurdles the Department of Energy faces in a licensing proceeding are formidable, particularly in view of the technical concerns expressed by the NRC itself.

Undoubtedly, Nevada is the David against the nuclear industry's Goliath. Although the nuclear industry's political muscle proved unbeatable in Congress, Nevada's presentation of the science, the facts, and the State's resolve will be potent weapons in the courtroom and before administrative tribunals. We are convinced that the fight is winnable with your support.

Frankie Sue Del Papa
Attorney General