Battle Mountain Bugle

Lander Commissioners urge D.O.E. get local input before designating route of Yucca Mountain nuclear waste rail spur

By Gary Been
Bugle/Sun Editor
September 3, 2002

BATTLE MOUNTAIN -The three Lander County Commissioners voted to endorse an Aug. 13 letter, written by Commission Chairman Mickey Yarbro, to the United States Department of Energy (D.O.E.) regarding its search for a suitable railroad spur line to carry nuclear waste to the controversial proposed Yucca Mountain waste site in southern Nevada.

"There will be significant political influence on routing options for Yucca Mountain," Yarbro wrote.

"Although the D.O.E. intends to select one final rail route for Yucca Mountain, it may be necessary to have more than one feasible option available given the political uncertainty faced in the future," Yarbro said in the letter .

Yarbro's letter strongly suggested the D.O.E. assemble a working group of local governments being affected by the rail spurs across the nation.

He was motivated to write the letter in part because, in his words, "I do not believe the D.O.E. compiled the necessary information to make final judgments about rail spur alternatives in Nevada. "

The letter requested a meeting between Lander County officials and D.O.E. officials "in the next several weeks.

"Local input is essential," Yarbro stated.

Commissioners said they believed the rail spur funding was to be scheduled for approval by Congress this year.

The controversial Yucca site was widely attacked in bipartisan fashion by both of Nevada's United States senators, John Ensign and Harry Reid, governor Kenny Guinn, Congressman Jim Gibbons and Congresswoman Shelley Berkley as well as most of the state's elected officials.

The complaints center around "questionable science" used by the D.O.E to justify selecting Yucca as its primary site for a nuclear waste repository.

The D.O.E. maintains its science is accurate and shows the site is safe and will be safe for the next 10,000 years.

If the project meets with all the necessary environmental approvals and survives at least five legal challenges, nuclear waste shipments will start arriving by train and truck beginning in 2010.