CARSON CITY — Nevada officials on Wednesday signed off on a contract to continue efforts to fight the Yucca Mountain project in Nye County.
The $150,000 increase in the contract between the attorney general’s office and Adams Natural Resources Consulting Services won unanimous support from the state Board of Examiners, which is composed of Gov. Brian Sandoval, Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske.
The contract extension increases the funding from $300,000 and extends it to Sept. 30, 2018.
Despite the project being pronounced dead during the Obama administration, Sandoval said the fight is needed because the Yucca project continues to see support in Congress.
“I feel like it is a disgusting waste of money and resources on the part of the federal government,” he said.
Marta Adams, who operates the Carson City company, is a former member of the attorney general’s office who has worked on Yucca Mountain project licensing and litigation since 1998.
Adams said Nevada is in a “heightened state of vigilance” because of the $120 million in funding proposed in President Donald Trump’s budget to restart licensing proceedings for the project by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
“We’re not going to go away and we’re not going to give up,” she said.
Sandoval asked for an update on the state’s efforts to stop Yucca Mountain from becoming the nation’s burial ground for high-level nuclear waste. He said the project is not viable, and any burial of waste at the site 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas would result in contamination of the groundwater aquifer in the region.
Adams noted that a new proposal would also raise the amount of waste slated for burial at the site from 70,000 metric tons to 110,000 metric tons, which she said could not be accommodated.
Sandoval, Laxalt and most state lawmakers strongly oppose any restart of the Yucca Mountain licensing hearings.
But some Nevada elected officials, including Nye County Commissioner Dan Schinhofen, argue the licensing proceedings should be allowed to go forward to determine decisively whether Yucca Mountain is a suitable site for the dump. Attorneys for Nevada have raised scores of issues challenging the site’s suitability.
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What exists at Yucca Mountain now
A 5-mile exploratory tunnel is at the site. It cannot be used for storage or disposal.
More than 40 additional miles would be necessary to operate the site.