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Yucca Mountain forum is coming to Pahrump

The Yucca Mountain Nuclear Repository project is undeniably one of the most contentious local topics of the past decade, seeing a series of fits and starts as politicians continually battle over whether or not the country’s tens of thousands of tons of nuclear waste will ever be stored at the site.

The fight still rages on today and those on both sides of the issue are always striving to persuade others to their way of thinking.

In an effort to potentially change the minds of members of the public who are against the proposed nuclear repository, former Nevada Assemblyman and 2020 Republican Congressional candidate Jim Marchant will be holding a forum on Yucca Mountain from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 30. The forum will take place at the Valley Conference Center, 800 East Highway 372 in Pahrump.

The forum is set to feature several nuclear scientists and experts, including Dr. Craig F. Smith, Dr. Chip Martin, Steven P. Curtis, Ronald Fraass and Air Force retired Col. Robert E. Frank.

Smith holds a Ph.D. in nuclear science and engineering and currently works as a research professor of physics at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.

Martin holds a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology and is director of Nuclear Operations for National Security Technologies at the Nevada National Security Site.

Curtis holds two degrees, a bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering and a master’s in health physics and has experience working with cybersecurity, radiochemistry and engineering and is a former nuclear weapons verification officer.

Fraass holds a master’s degree in nuclear engineering and is a retired director of the National Center for Radiation Field Operations as well as the National Air and Radiation Environmental Laboratory.

Frank is a retired business manager with 56 years of management experience under his belt, as well as experience as a U.S. Department of Energy Research and Development software development leader.

“These are people who know what they are talking about,” Marchant declared. “That’s the purpose of the forum. And I am going to moderate it, I’ll lead them through the whole progression of the frequently asked questions that people want to know and then of course at the end of it we will have a question-and-answer session for questions that we don’t cover or for further elaboration on certain questions.”

No doubt the discussion will include much talk about the effect of seismic activity on the site, as a result of the recent series of earthquakes in Southern California which were felt in Nevada as well.

Marchant left no doubt about his own stance on the project, telling the Pahrump Valley Times that he believes it needs to move forward. He is not alone in this position, either.

Although Nevada state elected officials have regularly pushed back against the proposed repository, the Nye County Commission, as the governing body of the host county, has taken a stance of support when it comes to completing the licensing process and allowing the science to be heard.

Marchant emphasized that he does not want Yucca Mountain to become a “dump” but rather, he want to see it as a place to store nuclear fuel for eventual recycling. Additionally, incentivizing the project by ensuring Nevadans “get as much benefit as possible” from it is a key focus, he stated.

Marchant said the ultimate goal of the July 30 forum is to, “…provide an education for people who don’t know about Yucca Mountain or may have some preconceived notions about it and hopefully we can change them and let people understand that it is a very positive thing for Nevada,” he explained.

Whether residents are for or against the Yucca Mountain project, Marchant encouraged all to head out and take part in the forum on July 30.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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