County Comments on Nuclear Waste Dump

As work continues to open the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Dump, Inyo County Staff is ready to present comments on the project.

Matt Gaffney with the Planning Department explained to the Board of Supervisors that there are three main beefs with the Department of Energy over plans to open the nuclear waste dump, just over the Nevada border from Inyo County.

Gaffney explained that the aquifer below the underground waste dump eventually bubbles up in springs under Death Valley National Park. He says that the DOE has not looked into this underground water connection sufficiently.

With the potential to impact tourism to Death Valley as well as property values in Tecopa and Shoshone, Gaffney explained that the DOE contends that there will be no socio-economic impacts.

How to get the dangerous waste to Yucca Mountain remains a serious issue. Gaffney explained that the Department of Energy says they plan to build a railroad line to Yucca Mountain, but its far more likely that the waste will come by trucks. With opposition to trucking through their city, Las Vegas has voiced opposition. The way that Gaffney sees it going down is that highway 127 through southern Inyo County will be used to transport the radioactive material.

Every scrap of nuclear waste created since the 40s has never gone away. The DOE says that 99% of radioactivity will be gone in a mere 10,000 years, but will still be radioactive for the next 350,000 to 500,000 years.

When completed, Yucca Mountain will have room for 70,000 metric tons of waste. With sixty years worth of spent nuclear waste floating around, most of this space is already claimed. The DOE says that Yucca Mountain will be full in about 25 years.

Gaffney reports that he will attend public meetings in Amargosa Valley on November 26, 4:00-7:00 pm and Statham Hall in Lone Pine on the 29th to submit the countys comments.

The DOE will receive public comments at those meetings, but you have to call ahead if you want to speak. To pre-register to speak call DOE at 1-800-225-6972.

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