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A look inside Yucca Mountain’s proposed nuclear waste storage facility

Updated July 26, 2018 - 2:45 pm

Federal lawmakers made their way to Nevada to visit the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository near Mercury.

A tour led by U.S. Department of Energy officials was held on July 14 for a dozen congressmen, who all support making the Yucca Mountain site the nation’s nuclear waste dump.

Energy Department officials led the day-long tour that included media, congressional staffers and others to show the work that has already been completed at Yucca Mountain and to talk about the potential for storing high-level nuclear waste 1,000 feet below ground for what would be tens of thousands of years.

“My goal is to bring my colleagues out here to see the site, talk to the people who have been involved with it for years, understand the science,” said John Shimkus, R-Ill., who spearheaded legislation to get Yucca Mountain moving. “It’s kind of self-explanatory when you travel out here and see the remoteness, and what’s been done so we can move forward.”

Shimkus, along with other U.S. House members on the Yucca Mountain tour, all support putting the nation’s waste at the site. The Illinois congressman led another congressional tour in 2015 to Yucca.

The majority of Nevada’s congressional delegation is opposed to bringing nuclear waste to the area. None were in attendance during the July 14 tour.

There are currently 121 communities in 39 states that house spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in the U.S., according to documents from the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee.

Shimkus pushed a bill through the House in May known as Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act (H.R. 3053). The legislation passed 340-72 with support from Democrats.

The bill streamlines the licensing process on the Energy Department’s application to build a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. It also pushes the capacity of waste to be stored at the site from 70,000 metric tons to 110,000 metric tons.

Yucca Mountain was designated as the nation’s nuclear waste repository by Congress in 1987. Drilling of the five-mile-long tunnel at the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain was completed in 1997.

Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at jmeehan@pvtimes.com

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