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August 30, 2014

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Yucca Mountain price tag: $90 billion

(Originally posted at 10:42 a.m.)

WASHINGTON -- The new price tag for building and operating Yucca Mountain is estimated to be $90 billion, the Energy Department said today, providing the first real snapshot of lifespan costs after Congress has repeatedly pleaded for an updated financial picture.

The estimate is $19 billion higher than previous rough estimates provided last year for the nation's nuclear waste dump about a 1 1/2-hour drive outside of Las Vegas.

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Energy Department project director Edward Sproat said the higher costs come from inflationary adjustments to today's dollars, design changes and increases in the amount of waste and time it takes to entomb it. The repository would be open for 100 years.

Within three weeks, the department also plans to report on a second repository, as required by Congress.

No surprise here: The report will say that expanding Yucca Mountain would be the most cost-effective option.

Most Nevadans oppose the proposed nuclear waste dump in the state. The project is 20 years behind schedule and is now on track to open in 2020.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a statement saying, “It’s always more, more, more … The evidence that Yucca Mountain will never happen is growing by the day.”

Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley said the project qualified as "grade 'A' radioactive pork. We could spend a fraction of that amount to pay for keeping waste safely on-site at existing plants for the next 100 years."

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