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Berkley Works To Cut Yucca Budget As Nrc Sets Deadline For Ruling On Doe Move To Pull License For Failed Dump

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Congresswoman Shelley Berkley today praised a ruling by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that will allow the Department of Energy (DOE) to continue moving forward on its effort to withdraw a license request for the failed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump. Today's action by NRC requires that a ruling on the DOE's request must be issued by June 1, 2010.

"This is one more victory in our effort to dump Yucca Mountain and to end wasteful spending on attempts to bury Nevada in nuclear waste," said Congresswoman Shelley Berkley. "While DOE and the State of Nevada fight to end the licensing effort, I am doing everything I can in Congress to see that funding for the dump is slashed to the bone, so it's a one-two combination punch. One thing remains clear -- Nevadans don't want Yucca Mountain. And by June, we can hope the board rules in our favor and determines that we can block nuclear industry backed efforts to force this toxic radioactive garbage on the families of the Silver State."

In addition to fighting efforts now underway to revive Yucca Mountain through renewed spending, Berkley continues to highlight the dump's scientific flaws and the danger it presents to communities across the nation, along with its staggering price tag.

"The nuclear industry and its allies don't want to talk about Yucca Mountain's $100 billion price tag and they still refuse to acknowledge fundamental holes in the science surrounding the dump. Whether it's more violent earthquakes at the site, or the terrorism threat from waste shipments across the U.S., those out to turn Nevada into a nuclear garbage dump remain silent on the huge risks that accompany Yucca Mountain, not to mention the outrageous sums it will require," said Berkley.


1) Decades of Transportation Dangers: On a daily basis for decades, lethal high-level nuclear waste would be shipped through residential communities in more than 40 states and hundreds of Congressional Districts, close to schools, hospitals, neighborhoods and houses of worship. Each of these shipments represents the distinct possibility for a catastrophic accident or incident of terrorist sabotage. One incident involving deadly nuclear waste could unleash radioactive contamination the likes of which our nation has never faced before. The sheer number of fiery crashes on America's highways and reoccurring accidents involving rail shipments demand we not ignore this very real threat to thousands of communities along waste transportation routes.

2) $100 Billion Budget Busting Price Tag: The Department of Energy has forecast Yucca Mountain's total cost will reach $100 billion. A decade ago, DOE estimated it would cost only $28 billion. The fact remains that no one knows the true final price tag for what would be one of the most expensive projects ever undertaken by the federal government. While billions have already gone into failed efforts to open Yucca, the dump's current final price tag is nearly ten times MORE than what's already been spent. Our nation cannot afford more reckless spending on a $100 billion bloated-budget project which is more than 20 years behind schedule and that threatens the safety of Americans.

3) Yucca Dump is Geologically Unsafe: Yucca Mountain is on a fault line subject to major earthquakes. This scenario could easily result in the release of massive amounts of radioactivity. Only two years ago it was revealed that planners for the dump actually had to make substantial changes because the fault line was located even closer than previously thought. The release of this amount of radioactivity would threaten the water supplies and the environment of the population centers of the entire Southwest.

4) Nuclear Operators Say No Need: Nuclear plants are already utilizing dry-cask storage and operators say there has been no effect on power production as a result of waste remaining at nuclear plants.

5) On-site Storage Offers True 100 Year Solution Today: On-site storage is available as a means to safeguard waste while a true solution is developed. Experts and regulators agree that by using hardened dry-cask storage containers, waste can be secured for the next 100 years. This avoids the transportation dangers and eliminates the need to spend $100 billion on Yucca Mountain, at a time when our nation is still recovering from an economic crisis.

6) A False Solution: Even if Yucca Mountain were built, waste would still remain in communities for decades awaiting transport to Nevada. More importantly, as long as a nuclear plant is producing energy, nuclear waste will still remain at reactor sites in communities across the country. So unless a reactor is 100% shut down, radioactive waste will continue to build up at any nuclear plant. And no magic wand can be used to suddenly transport waste all at once to the proposed dump. It is critical to understand that even if Yucca is completed, the Department of Energy has stated waste shipments could take a half-century before cities and towns would see existing waste stockpiles removed.

7) Yucca Based on Flawed Science: The law requires that Yucca Mountain's geology alone would protect Americans from the high-level nuclear waste to be stored there. But as scientists discovered that Yucca Mountain could not meet the standards set forth by Congress, nuclear waste project managers began unilaterally changing the rules in order to overcome flaws in the site. For example, once it had been determined that water would penetrate Yucca Mountain, plans were altered to include the use of robots to install high-tech umbrellas. A clear lack of technology also continues to plague plans for Yucca Mountain, including the fact that no canister exists that is capable of containing high-level radioactive waste given the rapid corrosion that studies have shown will occur once inside the dump. As casks corrode, radioactivity will be released, tainting essential water supplies.

8) Yucca Means Higher Energy Costs for Consumers: Families in nuclear states pay higher energy bills as a result of the monthly tax added to cover the cost of Yucca Mountain. Continued spending on Yucca Mountain will only raise energy costs for consumers as they are forced to cover the skyrocketing cost of the proposed dump.

9) Storage On-Site Safe for New Nuclear Plants, Safe at Existing Locations: Under the law, no new reactor waste can come to Nevada. New nuclear plants will be required to keep their high-level waste on-site for decades under current contracts. The nuclear industry and its allies support this method of securing waste at new nuclear plants and it can be used to safely do the same at existing facilities.

10) Ending Yucca Won't Force Nuclear Waste on other States: Proponents of Yucca Mountain falsely claim that eliminating Yucca Mountain will force nuclear waste to be moved. Nothing in the law requires that South Carolina, Washington or other states be forced to take additional nuclear waste.

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