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.



Energy Secretary Chu vows to "accelerate" nuclear loan guarantees, while affirming Yucca dump's cancellation

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, at a briefing on the Department of Energy's priorities for 2010, admitted that finalizing the first round of $18.5 billion in taxpayer-backed nuclear loan guarantees for financing new atomic reactors has proven "more complicated" than he originally thought it would be. Chu assured that the first nuclear loan guarantees would be issued "soon," despite the fact that DOE's top pick candidates are plagued with problems: the partners behind the proposed South Texas Project "Advanced Boiling Water Reactors" are embroiled in a $32 billion internecine legal dispute; the AP1000s planned at Vogtle GA and Summer SC have a major safety related design flaw, as does the Areva "Evolutionary Power Reactor" targeted at Calvert Cliffs MD. On a brighter note, Chu affirmed that "Yucca Mountain is off the table," and added that his blue ribbon commission, established to study alternatives to Yucca, will not be charged with identifying a new centralized geologic repository to take its place. This raises the specter, however, that dirty, dangerous, and expensive reprocessing may be pushed as the latest "illusion of a solution" to the radioactive waste dilemma.


DOE and OMB "at odds" over speed of Yucca dump's cancellation?

A letter from U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu to White House Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag seems  to indicate a difference in positions as to how quickly the Yucca Mountain, Nevada high-level radioactive waste dumpsite should be phased out. Although President Obama and Energy Secretary Chu have made clear time and time again that Yucca is no longer an option for high-level radioactive waste disposal, the proposed repository's construction and operating license application proceeding before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been allowed to continue (in fact an oral hearing will be held at the end of this month in Las Vegas), raising the specter that the supposedly cancelled dump could come back to life someday under the right political circumstances. In the meantime, the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, Timbisha Shoshone Indian Tribe, and other dump opponents must remain vigilant until the final nail has been pounded down on the dump's coffin lid.


Nuclear industry advised to hush up about Yucca 

An article in the latest issue of Nuclear Waste reveals that the nuclear industry is being advised to go silent on the failed Yucca Mountain proposed radioactive waste dump site and "repackage its message" including to "stop talking about the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository altogether." The article quoted Pat Cavanaugh, legislative director to Rep. Mike Doyl (D-Pa) as telling the industry to focus its message on "zero emissions and green jobs" and to disengage from the "yes-toYucca, no-toYucca fight."


Mad Science. Newsweek's Daren Brisco claims Yucca Mountain dump is "sound science" but the facts say otherwise

In the December 1 issue of Newsweek, under the utterly misleading banner "Project Green", writer Daren Briscoe urges president-elect Obama not to cancel the Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump, claiming that "sound science already comes down firmly on the side of Yucca Mountain." Clearly, Briscoe did not research the actual science itself which has identified numerous technical problems with the site. The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research lists the many technical and scientific problems at Yucca.


Up, up and away as Yucca price soars

The price tag for the proposed high-level radioactive waste dump at Yucca Mountain, NV, continues to rise with new estimates announced on August 5 topping $96.2 billion. The Department of Energy's director of nuclear waste programs, Ward Sproat, released the new estimates, up from the $57.5 billion cost projected in 2001. Sproat said he based the new figures on an assumption that the 77,000-ton Yucca capacity would be too small and should be expanded to 122,000 tons of waste. At the current capacity and with continued nuclear waste generation, the Yucca dump, if opened, would be full by 2010. (Photo of Yucca sweatlodge by Gabriela Bulisova).