Yucca Mountain

Yucca Mountain, the Nevada-based, scientifically flawed and politically unjust proposed high-level radioactive waste repository has now been canceled. However, pro-nuclear forces in Congress have not abandoned Yucca and funding is still allocated to the project.



State of Nevada refuses to be "screwed" by half-baked attempt to revive cancelled Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump

Native Community Action Council bumper stickerRobert J. Halstead, the Executive Director of the State of Nevada's Agency for Nuclear Projects, serving under the Office of the Governor, Brian Sandoval, has submitted comments to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on the agency's Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) on Yucca Mountain. The comments comprise powerful pushback against the half-baked attempt to revive the cancelled Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump. The chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has called the entire NRC SDEIS proceeding "a useless act," a multi-million dollar waste of time, energy, and taxpayer resources, not to mention public involvement.

Thus, the State of Nevada continues its tradition of resistance to the high-level radioactive waste dump that began with the "Screw Nevada bill" of 1987, the most common name for the Amendments to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act that singled out Nevada as the only site to be further studied for high-level radioactive waste disposal, despite its scientific unsuitability, known to the U.S. Department of Energy since the early 1980s. The "Screw Nevada bill," orchestrated by more politically powerful states also targeted for the country's first repository (Texas, Washington, and many in the East and Midwest), abandoned a process of scientific integrity and regional equity (90% of the commercial irradiated nuclear fuel in the U.S. is located in the eastern half of the country!), embracing raw politics instead.

As long-time, leading anti-Yucca dump advocate, Dr. Arjun Makhijani of IEER has put it, Yucca is the most unsuitable site for an irradiated nuclear fuel repository ever studied. The only way the dump project was repeatedly kept on life support for decades on end was by way of "double-standard standards," Dr. Makhijani has pointed out. That is, if Yucca could not meet the standards, they were either weakened or done away with.

Nevada's comments included appendices prepared by the Native Community Action Council, and Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, whose members live downstream of Yucca Mountain, and would drink the massive releases of hazardous radioactivity that would occur into the groundwater, if the dump is ever opened.


Resisting environmental racism at Yucca Mountain, Nevada

Corbin Harney (standing), Western Shoshone spiritual leader, and Raymond Yowell, then Western Shoshone Indian Nation chief, at Peace Camp, NV, Oct. 2002, leading protests against nuclear weapons testing, militarism, and radioactive waste dumping at the Nevada Test Site. Photo by Gabriela Bulisova.November 20th marked the end of a rushed, "going-through-the motions" Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), a thinly veiled attempt to revive the cancelled Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste dump in Nevada.

NRC didn't even bother to provide advance notice to the affected Indian tribes downstream from the targeted site, let alone consult with them in a government-to-government manner, as is the agency's legal obligation. But at least NRC is consistent: it didn't provide any funding to the tribes, either, placing an extraordinary burden on the tribal nations to meet the arbitrarily-short deadline. In this regard, NRC's SDEIS public comment proceeding itself was a violation of environmental justice (EJ), not to mention the agency's biased push to bury 70,000 metric tons, or more, of high-level radioactive waste on indigenous land, guaranteed to leak into the precious, even sacred, drinking water supply.

Despite NRC's own EJ violations, the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe and the Native Community Action Council met the deadline, with powerful comments. They thereby continued a tradition of protecting Yucca Mountain, and its groundwater, that dates back not just years or decades, but centuries and millenia, to time immemorial. More.


Defend environmental justice -- speak out against Yucca Mountain dump by Nov. 20!

Yucca Mountain, Nevada is Western Shoshone Indian land, as recognized by the U.S. government when it signed the "peace and friendship" Treaty of Ruby Valley in 1863. Treaties are the highest law of the land, equal in stature to the U.S. Constitution itself.

As with Western Shoshone Indian Nation resistance to nuclear weapons detonations at the Nevada Test Site since 1951, the U.S. government has often attempted to ignore the tribe's protests against being targeted for the country's high-level radioactive waste dump at Yucca Mountain.

Most recently, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has attempted to revive the Yucca dump proposal, even after President Obama cancelled it in 2010 as "unworkable," a nod to the State of Nevada's tireless opposition.

(NRC published notification of its Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste dump Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) in the Federal Register on Aug. 21. The DSEIS is posted on NRC's website.)

Western Shoshone resistance has been tireless as well. Ian Zabarte, of Deebege Newe and the Native Community Action Council, has long resisted the environmental racism inherent in the Yucca dump proposal. He has prepared an action alert for tribal environmental leaders. [On November 20th, Ian Zabarte's "NATIVE AMERICANS BELIEF IN WATER: AN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE CONTEXT" was submitted, as part of the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear's Project's official comment to NRC; see Appendix C, beginning on page 80 of the PDF counter. See also the COMMENTS OF THE TIMBISHA SHOSHONE TRIBE, Appendix B, beginning on page 68 of the PDF counter.]

The Yucca dump, if ever opened, would leak massively into the groundwater below. That groundwater eventually surfaces as springs in Death Valley, CA, putting the Timbisha Shoshone who live there at radiological risk.

Corbin Harney (standing) and Raymond Yowell, former chief of the Western Shoshone Indian Nation, at Peace Camp, protesting the Nevada Test Site and Yucca dump in October 2002. Photo by Gabriela Bulisova.Poo-Ha-Bah -- Newe (Shoshone) words meaning "Doctor Water" -- is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization located at healing hot springs in Tecopa, CA. It is also downstream of Yucca, and thus at risk if the dump ever opens. It was founded in 1998 by Newe Spiritual Leader Corbin Harney (1920-2007, photo left), and is now under successive leadership of Darlene Graham, and a majority Native American Board of Directors with traditional knowledge. Corbin Harney helped lead resistance to nuclear weapons testing and radioactive waste dumping on Newe land for decades on end.

Please help defend environmental justice, against radioactive racism, by submitting public comments opposed to the Yucca dump. Public comments are due by 11:59pm Eastern, Friday, Nov. 20. Read on to see how to submit comments.

Per the Fed Reg Notice, comments can be submitted:

via the Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to and search for Docket ID NRC-2015-0051;

or, by mailing comments to Cindy Bladey, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: OWFN-12-H08, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001.

Regarding WHAT comments to make, see the ideas below. You can use those to write your own. Be sure to specifiy the report number NUREG–2184, as well as the Docket ID NRC-2015-0051, in the subject line of your comments, so they can be routed to the correct docket.

SAMPLE COMMENTS [see additional sample "Talking Points," update below]

NRC's DSEIS has absurdly concluded that radioactive releases from the proposed Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste dump would be SMALL -- that is, essentially minimal, and harmless -- over the course of a million years into the future.

Actually, if irradiated nuclear fuel is ever buried at Yucca, it would leak massively, into the groundwater, creating a "nuclear sacrifice zone" over a broad region downstream.

This would include hazardous, even deadly, radioactive contamination of the groundwater, currently used for drinking and irrigation water in Nevada's agricultural Amargosa Valley; the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Death Valley National Park, as well as the Timbisha Shoshone Indian community inhabiting Death Valley, would also be in harm's way.

The potential for disproportionate impacts on minority or low-income populations is especially high, considering the current lifestyle of the Timbisha Shoshone Indian community, as well as the traditional lifestyle of the Western Shoshone Indian Nation.

The potential for cumulative impacts associated with other past, present, or reasonably foreseeable future actions is very high. After all, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, Department of Energy, and military conducted atmospheric nuclear weapons tests in the vicinity of Yucca Mountain from 1951 to 1963. They continued to conduct underground full-scale nuclear weapons tests at the Nevada Test Site (NTS) from 1963 to 1992, many of which leaked radioactivity to the atmosphere and environment, as well as contaminated regional groundwater. Even after 1992, nuclear weapons testing has continued at the NTS, in the form of sub-critical experiments involving plutonium.

Another cumulative impact involves the large-scale transport to, and dumping of so-called "low" level radioactive wastes at, the NTS.

We join with the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, several environmental groups, and others in urging NRC to extend the public comment deadline by at least an additional 60 days. We also urge that additional in-person public meetings be scheduled in California (where Yucca's radioactively contaminated groundwater would ultimately surface in springs), as well as elsewhere across the country (given that Yucca's opening would launch the unprecedented, large-scale shipment of risky high-level radioactive waste by truck, train, and barge, through most states. And we urge that all in-person public meetings also include the call-in option, already provided at other locations, on earlier dates.

Frame of a Western Shoshone sacred ceremonial sweat lodge, with Yucca Mountain in the background, Oct. 2002. Photo by Gabriela Bulisova.And lastly, WHY to comment? A thousand environmental groups, representing every state in the Union, have joined with the Western Shoshone Indian Nation, as well as the State of Nevada and its U.S. congressional delegation, ever since the "Screw Nevada bill" of 1987, to stop the dangerous Yucca Mountain dump. Now is no time to let up the resistance. (This listing of 750 groups, posted online, was later updated to show more than a thousand groups opposed to the Yucca dump.)

More sample talking points, shared by Mary Olson of NIRS SE, you can use to prepare your own:

HOW does NRC account for the inclusion of High-Burnup Fuel in the Yucca Mt post-closure impact analysis?

If NRC is not factoring High-Burnup fuel as waste, then it is not accurately assessing these factors, all of which impact the post-closure impacts:

Heat load (including over time);

Source Term (ditto);

Mobility of radionuclides in the source-term profile.

If the amount of radioactivity, the type of radioactivity and its contribution to the heat issues are wrong, then the Total System Performance Assessment (TSPA) used to project the post-closure outcomes should be corrected and the Draft SEIS tabled until the TSPA is corrected.

FOR MORE ON HIGH-BURNUP WASTE, See Donna Gilmore/Marvin Resnikoff’s fact sheet on High Burnup Fuel:

And Donna’s report on NRC ignoring High Burnup as an issue in nuclear waste transport: (Strong circumstantial evidence that NRC has also ignored High Burnup issues in the matter of Yucca Mt.)

Here is a different version from NV Nuclear Waste Task Force:

Regarding high burn-up - If there is not the 7,000 MTU [Metric Tons Uranium] of defense waste in the repository it could possibly be made up by adding more commercial waste to fill the 70,000 MTU statutory capacity. Some or all of that 7,000 MTU could be high burn-up which becomes a TSPA problem, because it does not consider high burn-up fuel (above 45 Gwd -- Giga-watt days) in its calculation. This could be an additional contributor to the assertion that the starting point contaminant concentration for the SEIS has no credible technical basis.

To learn more about Yucca Mountain, see Beyond Nuclear's website section, as well as NIRS's website section.


Nov. 9th update from NRC on Yucca Mountain public comment period

NRC issued the following update on Nov. 9th:

"We have posted the meeting summary and transcript of our October 15 public teleconference on our website at  Also on that page, you can find materials from the public meetings we held in September (the NRC staff’s presentation slides, the transcripts, links to the videos, meeting summaries, and other materials). 

Our next and last public meeting to receive comments on the draft supplement will be the teleconference on Thursday, November 12, 2015, from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time.  This is a teleconference only.  The number for this teleconference is 888-790-2936, and the passcode is 1715992.  Information about the teleconference is available both on our web page for this project ( and on the NRC’s public meetings web page, at During the teleconference we will not be using slides, but we will give a short presentation that follows the order of the slides we used for the September meetings. 

Please respond to this email [] if you would like to pre-register or to speak during Thursday’s teleconference.  In addition, remember that the comment period for the draft supplement closes next Friday, November 20, 2015

If you have any questions about the information in this email, please contact Christine Pineda at (301) 415-6789 or email us at

Thank you,

The staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Yucca Mountain Directorate"


Submit public comments to NRC against Yucca dump & Mobile Chernobyl on national call-in Nov. 12, or written comments any time till Nov. 20

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is holding another national public comments call-in tele-conference, regarding the proposed Yucca Mountain, NV high-level radioactive waste dump, on:

Thursday, November 12, 2015, from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time. 

The number for this teleconference is 888-790-2936, and the passcode is 1715992.

(Note that you can make written public comments at any time up to the Nov. 20th deadline via the Federal Rulemaking Web site -- go to and search for Docket ID NRC-2015-0051 -- or, by mailing comments to Cindy Bladey, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: OWFN-12-H08, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001.)

Please see Beyond Nuclear's Yucca Mountain website section, below, for additional background information, including: news from earlier in-person public comment hearings; sample talking points, from Beyond Nuclear and allies such as the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, the Western Shoshone Indian Nation, and other environmental/justice groups, that you can use to prepare your own public comments; and additional insights into the unnecessary, unwise Yucca dump proposal, and the Mobile Chernobyl risks it would launch on our roads, rails, and waterways, in the form of high-level radioactive waste shipments by truck, train, and barge through most states.