With $9 billion spent on the Yucca Mountain Project so far, federal budget cuts threaten to stop the nuclear waste dump project. Nevada Senator Harry Reid has long been opposed to the project and recently engineered the budget cuts in the Senate.
In a press release, Senator Reid calls the waste dump budget cuts, excellent news for Nevada and the nation.
The waste dump is just over the Nevada border from Inyo County so the federal government pays Inyo to study the possible effects of Yucca Mountain on the county. Past transportation studies have indicated that much of the nuclear waste headed toward Yucca will come by truck through Inyo County roads. Currently the county is drilling test wells to study the connection between the aquifer under Death Valley National Park and the groundwater under the waste dump.
When we spoke to Matt Gaffney, with the Inyo County Yucca Mountain Repository Assessment Office, he explained that the money slated for Inyo County, including $1.5 million for test wells, is still in the budget for this year. Whether there is a budget for next year, could depend on the political situation in Washington DC.
One make or break point is that the Department of Energy has to get a license for the waste dump. Gaffney explained that the DOE is trying to get that application turned in while the current administration is in office. If that doesn’t happen, he says that we may see an effort to change the nuclear waste disposal policy in the United States.
Senator Reid appears to be confident that the Yucca Mountain project is sunk. As for the effects of the budget cuts, Senator Reid says that while, the DOE will continue to try to limp forward, it is clear they are wasting their time and valuable taxpayer dollars hoping to build a dump that will never see the light of day.
The Yucca Mountain site has been studied since the 70s and has been the sole focus of the government effort to store nuclear waste since 1987. Whether Senator Reid proves to be correct and the dump is done for, is yet to be seen. Even if this dump site fails, nuclear waste remains stockpiled around the nation with nowhere to go.