BERKLEY CALLS ON BUSH TO HALT YUCCA MOUNTAIN
Independent Review of Scientific Work Needed Before Licensing Efforts Move Forward
(April 21, 2005 - Washington, D.C.) U.S. Representative Shelley Berkley (D-NV) asked President Bush in a letter Wednesday to call off work on a license for the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.
The request follows recent revelations by the Department of Energy that workers at Yucca Mountain allegedly falsified key findings, including data relating to water entering the site. The activities were revealed in e-mails written by employees of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) working on the quality assurance program at Yucca Mountain. The potentially criminal actions described in the exchanges are now the subject of an FBI investigation and inquiries by the Inspectors General of the Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior.
"President Bush promised Nevadans that he would not let politics drive his decision making about Yucca Mountain, and he should stand by his word. I have asked the President to call a halt to his administration's efforts to win approval for Yucca Mountain until an independent review of work on the project can be completed. E-mails written by employees of the project show a clear pattern of reckless behavior and deception that has resulted in the launch of a criminal investigation by the FBI. A total moratorium from the President on work to win approval for a license to build and operate Yucca Mountain would send a clear signal that protecting the health of families is more important than the nuclear industry's bottom line," said Berkley.
The text of the letter to President Bush is as follows:
April 20, 2005
President George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, D.C. 20500-0005
Dear Mr. President,
In light of the recent allegations that United States Geological Survey (USGS) employees falsified documents relating to the Yucca Mountain Project, I am writing to request that you immediately halt all further licensing activities for this project.
( The Department of Energy has announced that numerous USGS workers involved in the quality assurance program for the Yucca Mountain Project indicated via e-mails dated May 1998 to 2000 that documentation of work was fabricated. The documentation in question relates to computer modeling involving water infiltration and climate. Water infiltration and climate issues are two of the most fundamental factors involved in establishing whether or not the proposed repository can safely isolate waste and prevent groundwater contamination.
The Department of Energy has repeatedly assured the people of Nevada and the American public that the Yucca Mountain Project is scientifically sound. However, the latest allegations only compound existing deficiencies at the quality assurance program as identified last year by the General Accountability Office and outlined in its April 2004 report, "Yucca Mountain: Persistent Quality Assurance Problems Could Delay Repository Licensing and Operation." Clearly, the failures found by the GAO and the alleged improprieties acknowledged by DOE call into question nearly all scientific findings to date.
Given the nature of the fraud combined with last year's U.S. Appeals Court ruling that radiation standards are insufficient to protect the health and safety of Americans, all work on the Yucca Mountain Project license application should be immediately halted.
Because of the magnitude of the Yucca Mountain Project and the potential effect on the health of residents and the environment, it is critical that the work of all agencies involved be held to the highest standards. To maintain the integrity of this project, it is necessary that an independent entity conduct a comprehensive review, prior to license application submission, of all documentation citing key scientific findings and research addressing safety compliance of the proposed repository.
Thank you for your attention to this critical matter.
Member of Congress