Agency for Nuclear Projects



The State of Nevada has filed suit challenging DOE's final Yucca Mountain Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) as inadequate and in violation of both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA). The State contends that DOE should have fully and adequately addressed transportation of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level radioactive waste (HLW) to Yucca Mountain in the FEIS, and that the transportation analysis contained in the FEIS is legally and substantively deficient and entirely inadequate. These talking points do not, in any way, diminish the legal arguments. Rather, they are intended to set forth Nevada's position relative to any Yucca Mountain SNF/HLW transportation planning effort DOE may undertake (which in Nevada's view, should have been done as an integral element of the Yucca Mountain site selection).

DOE is now proposing to move ahead with decisions about SNF and HLW transportation without having conducted adequate analyses of proposed decisions and their alternatives and without legally required public and stakeholder input. It is Nevada's position that such decisions can only be made - and the activities required to make them can only be undertaken - within the context of a comprehensive and legally sufficient NEPA process.

State Position:

  • The ONLY acceptable vehicle for engaging in planning for SNF and HLW shipments in Nevada or nationally is the process set forth by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and its implementing regulations.

  • The NEPA process provides a clear and unambiguous framework by which DOE can set forth its proposal(s) for developing and implementing a transportation system in a manner that assures adequate public involvement and that guarantees consistency and transparency.

  • The NEPA process assures that there is a level playing field and that DOE will not be able to make one set of representations to one group, region, or area, and another set of representations to other groups, regions, or areas. The NEPA process enhances public involvement while severely limiting opportunities for gamesmanship, manipulation, and playing one set of stakeholders/affected parties off against another.

  • This means that DOE must commit to the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the transportation program. Such EIS must encompass an integrated transportation program that covers BOTH the national transportation system and the transportation system within Nevada. The EIS must show how the national and Nevada components function in a consistent and integrated manner, and how decisions with respect to the national system affect the Nevada system, and vice versa.

  • DOE should begin the process by first setting forth it's proposed action and alternatives for the national transportation system. Once the national system has been fully scoped and alternatives identified and described, DOE should develop the Nevada component (proposed action and alternatives) in a manner that is fully consistent with the national system.

  • All interactions with the public, state and local governments, and other interested parties and stakeholders must be done ONLY through the formal NEPA process. All information made available must be the same for all groups and in all forums. DOE must follow the letter and spirit of NEPA in informing and involving the public and affected parties, both nationally and in Nevada.

  • A formal record of all NEPA proceedings, interactions, comments, information requests, etc. must be maintained by DOE, and this record must become a part of the overall record for the EIS and the NEPA process.

  • State of Nevada agencies will interact with DOE only via the formal NEPA process.

  • All meetings and interactions must be public and formally noticed so that there can be no manipulation of the process - such as the playing off of one party or set of parties against others.

  • The EIS should include the DOE's proposal for how to accomplish the transportation project. This is the place to air the alternatives, such as regional transportation service contractors, etc.

  • The EIS should include the policy and procedures for implementation of Section 180(c) of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, the provision for training and equipping state and local public safety and emergency response personnel. In 1998 DOE started the process, and their original offering and all comments received are on the OCRWM page, just waiting for the next phase of "make it up as you go." An EIS is the proper place to sort this out.

Steps to be Followed in the Process:

  1. DOE develops a draft national transportation plan describing a proposed action and alternatives. This draft plan is to be used to initiate the formal NEPA scoping process.

  2. Once the national plan has been developed, DOE develops a draft Nevada component, assuring that the proposed action and alternatives are fully consistent with the national plan (action plus alternatives). There must be complete symmetry between the two plans.

  3. The integrated draft plan must clearly identify all proposed shipping modes and routes, clearly depicting all preferred shipping routes and alternatives.

  4. Once both draft plans have been developed, DOE initiates a formal scoping process for the transportation EIS. This must involve a lengthy comment period (at least 180 days) and formal hearings in states and cities along all proposed transportation routes, both nationally and in Nevada.

  5. Upon completion of the scoping process, DOE must prepare a draft EIS that fully addresses both the national system (proposed action and alternative) and the Nevada system (proposed action and alternatives).

  6. The draft EIS must be put out for public comment for an extended period (9 months to a year, at least). DOE must take extraordinary steps to assure that the public and affected cities, counties, and communities along transportation routes, both nationally and in Nevada, are aware of the draft EIS and have ample opportunity to comment on it. DOE must hold hearings in communities all along transportation routes.

  7. Hearings and the comment period/comment solicitation must be fully and adequately noticed all along the transportation routes, both nationally and in Nevada. Such notices must NOT be done in the fashion employed for the Yucca Mountain draft EIS, where public notices were placed so as NOT to draw public attention and where the wording of the notices made no mention of nuclear waste transportation or the potential for impacts to people and communities along the transportation routes.

  8. Upon completion of all hearings and close of the comment period for the draft EIS, DOE must incorporate public input into a revise draft EIS. While not required by NEPA, the issuance of a revised draft EIS is essential due to the extraordinary complexity of the transportation program and the extreme public interest in and sensitivity to this issue. DOE should initiate another comment period on the revised draft EIS, with additional public hearings as needed to assure a full on open public airing of the proposed action and alternatives.

  9. Upon completion of the comment period and hearings on the revised draft EIS, DOE will prepare a final EIS that fully complies with NEPA and CEQ requirements. The final EIS will set forth the alternative(s) selected by DOE for both the national and Nevada system, assuring that all aspects of each will be internally consistent.

  10. DOE must issue a formal Record of Decision setting forth the integrated SNF and HLW transportation system (both the selected national and Nevada components and the interface between them).

  11. The final EIS and the Record of Decision will become the basis for any discussions with the State of Nevada, Nevada local governments, other states and local governments, the transportation industry, etc. for moving ahead with SNF or HLW transportation activities.