The Inyo Register

August 15, 2002

Anti-Yucca Mtn. Campaign grows

National association passes resolutions in opposition as DOE considers possible funding setbacks

By Darcy Ellis

Thanks in part to protest from Inyo County representatives, a formal declaration of support for Yucca Mountain's designation as a nuclear waste repository was shot down recently.

Andrew Remus, Inyo County, Yucca Mountain Project Office coordinator, told the Board of Supervisors this week that a resolution in favor of the chosen Nevada. site was denied approval at last month's National Association of Counties annual conference in Washington, D.C.

The resolution had, more specifically, officially backed President Bush's decision to validate the Department of Energy's nomination of Yucca Mountain, Nev. as the storage site for the nation's nuclear waste.

"(It) was successfully defeated at steering and subcommittee levels due to the efforts of Inyo County's representatives at the conference," Remus reported, "and was not adopted by the NACO General Assembly."

Remus attended the week long conference specifically on behalf of Inyo County in regards to the, Yucca Mountain Project, which at this, stage has been given thumbs up by the US Senate as well -despite heavy protest from Nevada representatives.

Supervisor Ervin Lent was in attendance on behalf of the county in general, and has often been outspoken on the Yucca Mountain topic while at NACO gatherings.

According to Remus, two other Yucca Mountain resolutions were far more successful.

One of them, requesting the Department of Energy to develop policies for mitigation of impacts that might result from transporting the waste to Yucca Mountain, was formally supported by the Board of Supervisors at the request of Clank County, Nev., prior to the July conference.

The transportation aspect of the Yucca Mountain Project is of particular concern to Inyo County, it has been reported, since the DOE plans to use a two-lane tboroughfare running through the southeast portions of the county. State Route 127, heavily traveled by tourists en route to Las Vegas and Death Valley, has been identified by the DOE as a likely route.

Another resolution that was received more positively during the conference was one supporting a single repository, Remus reported. Both it and the transportation impact mitigation resolution were adopted as part of NACO's policy platform, he continued.

At Tuesday's board meeting in Independence, Remus also gave county supervisors an update on the current status of the Yucca Mountain Project.

According to Remus, Congress is currently debating DOE program funding for Fiscal Year 2002-03, which could lead to money woes where the Yucca Mountain Project is concerned.

"The level of funding of the Yucca Mountain Project will seriously influence DOE's ability to initiate the Nuclear Regulatory Commission license-preparation phase of the program," he stated in his staff report, "and maintain the science program supporting any future license application."

The DOE must receive proper licensing from the NRC before the first shipment of waste can be accepted at the site_