Nevada delegation defiant as House mulls over Yucca Mountain revival proposal

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The nuclear waste dump debate continues on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers in Washington are gearing up to pass nuclear waste policy that could restart the disposal project at Yucca Mountain. The project has been on hold since 2011 to the delight of the Nevada delegation on Capitol Hill. Congressman Ruben Kihuen (D-NV) says restarting this project would be dangerous for Nevadans.

Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-NV) says reviving the Yucca Mountain project would be dangerous for Nevadans.

“People are just trying to pawn off their problems by dumping nuclear waste in our beloved state,” said Kihuen in his testimony before the House Subcommittee on Environment.

The legislation could end up turning Yucca Mountain into the nation’s permanent nuclear waste dump. The Nevada delegation, well represented at the hearing, held a unanimous front, saying, “Yucca Mountain is dead.”

“If a state is generating nuclear waste then they should keep it in their own backyard. They shouldn’t be sending it to our backyard,” said Kihuen.

Kihuen says it should be a volunteer based system. If a nuclear energy producing state wants to provide the dumpsite, then they should hold the waste. He says the federal government forcing it on states is not the answer.

“This is not a partisan issue,” said Kihuen. “This is a public safety and an economic issue for the state of Nevada.”

Outside the Nevada delegation, lawmakers are saying Yucca Mountain is the ideal location. They say it’s remote and will keep people out of harm’s way.

“That’s a blessing to them that they have a geological formation that would be secure and safe,” said Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC).

Wilson’s state produces nuclear energy. He says he would be nervous if the waste was kept in his state. He says it is important to move away from temporary dump sites, and start storing this waste in a safe, centralized location.

“I wouldn’t support it if I thought that it was actually injurious to the people of any state,” said Wilson.

The timeline for the possible Yucca Mountain project license is uncertain.