weather icon Clear

Hardy joins lawmakers on educational tour of Yucca

Nevada Congressman Cresent Hardy emerged from Thursday’s tour of Yucca Mountain restating the need for an “honest” discussion about the proposed nuclear waste site, and then let science be the guide.

However, the freshman lawmaker reiterated that he “is still not for it, or still not against” the site being used for its original purpose, but wants to see the issue of storing the nation’s waste at the site put “to bed once and for all.”

“(Yucca Mountain) has been a polarized view, one side or the other,” Hardy said. “Let’s have the science come together. The opposing science from the state of Nevada come together with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and let’s have that open discussion.”

The congressional delegation was organized by the Department of Energy at the request of Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., who is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce environment and economy subcommittee, and a leading advocate of reviving the program.

“It’s 30 years and a $15 billion investment by the nation,” said Shimkus after the five-mile, 90-minute tour. “Again with the facts that the (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) has said it will be safe for a million years, it’s an investment that we need to keep in mind as we move forward.”

Also on the tour were Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., Bob Latta, R-Ohio, Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., and Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., as well as their staffers, representatives from the DOE, and a small group of journalists. That group of 35 people made the journey nearly 1,600 feet into the south end of the tunnel, stopping along the way as William Boyle, DOE director of the office of used fuel disposition, research and development, explained the history and science of the exploratory tunnel.

Work began on the tunnel in September 1994, and took 31 months and $74 million to cut the five-mile route through the volcanic rock. The $13 million machine that carved that path, called the “Yucca Mucker,” sits outside the south portal where it finished its journey nearly 18 years ago. Much of the rail, which is nearly 100 years old and was repurposed from a U.S. Navy yard, still sits within much of the Yucca tunnel.

The group split off at the 1,600-foot point with Boyle and the congressional delegation taking all-terrain vehicles the rest of the way through the tunnel, with the remaining group exiting the 25-foot-diameter tunnel taking vans and rejoining the lawmakers outside the north portal.

Hardy, whose 4th Congressional District includes Nye County and Yucca Mountain, said the trip was educational.

“You tell the difference from the beginning to the end,” he said. “It gets a more secure feeling as you get to the middle parts of that tunnel (where the waste would be stored). I understand how it’s going to work a little more.”

Not on the tour were Nevada’s two other congressional representatives, Democrat Dina Titus or Republican Joe Heck. Nor were any staff members from U.S. Sens. Dean Heller and Harry Reid, both vocal opponents of reviving the project.

Yucca opponents said the trip was designed more for political theater than for scientific inquiry, including a decision to exclude the state’s geology consultant Steve Frishman, a member of a Nevada technical and legal team that has built evidence it says shows that Yucca Mountain would be unsafe to store highly radioactive waste.

However, Nye County Commissioner Dan Schinhofen and other county representatives, who support the project’s return, were also told they could not be accommodated.

While the Department of Energy arranged details of the tour, officials said it is customary for congressional sponsors to set the guest list.

Hardy said he was grateful for Shimkus including him on the visit, even though the freshman lawmaker doesn’t sit on any committees dealing directly with nuclear waste storage.

“I’m just just glad I came and looked at it,” Hardy said. “This is my district and I have a responsibility to come and see what’s going on. I want to learn as much as I can about everything.”

GateHouse Media Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault contributed to this report.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Pahrump man, 20, faces murder, 3 other charges

The Nye County District Attorney’s Office has charged Nick VonAlst with murder and armed robbery in connection with an incident that occurred in northern Pahrump during the early morning hours of June 24.

Extension of census deadline provides more time for scams

With the deadline to respond the 2020 census extended until fall, scammers continue to target Nevadans around the county, including phishing emails and text messages, individuals claiming to be with the U.S. Census Bureau, approaching the doors of residents and asking for sensitive information such as Social Security numbers and credit card information, or by mailing fake census forms to unsuspecting residents that ask for sensitive information.

4 UNLV athletes test positive for coronavirus

Voluntary workouts on campus are now suspended until July 5 at the earliest, the school announced.

Registration drive aims at less-frequent voters

The Voter Participation Center and its partner group, the Center for Voter Information, are mailing 390,237 voter registration applications to people in Nevada this month as part of their largest-ever campaign to register voters.

IN SEASON: 5 common tomato problems and what to do about them

Every year around this time I see a lot of questions in my garden club about tomatoes and the issues that gardeners are facing when trying to grow them. There seem to be five main issues that desert gardeners face when it comes to growing summer’s most popular fruit. Fortunately, they are easy to treat and even easier to prevent.

Smokin’ 4th in Beatty

The traditional Fourth of July celebration in Beatty was limited to the fireworks display this year, but the town had something more to celebrate on the 4th this year. That day saw the long-anticipated opening of Smokin’ J’s Barbecue.

Help for mental health issues now in your hand

Elemental Treatment has developed an app available on all devices to offer teletherapy, with programs including therapy for addiction and depression as well as life coaching and life skills.

COVID-19 virus brings life to local RV resort

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has been responsible for the tragic deaths of more than 500 individuals throughout Nevada as of Thursday, including three Nye residents, the deadly virus has in a way, created life at a local RV park.