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January 26, 2015

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Energy Department withdraws application for Yucca Mountain

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Yucca Mountain

The U.S. Energy Department plans to store spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain, an extinct volcano about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

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The U.S. Department of Energy today filed an application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board to withdraw its application for a license to build Yucca Mountain.

The agency filed the motion “with prejudice,” which means it believes the site is unsuitable and that it has no intention to reopen the license application process.

“This is great news for Nevadans and marks the final stage of a battle that I’ve fought since arriving in Congress,” Sen. Harry Reid said in a statement. “With the decision by President Obama to pursue the withdrawal of the license application and cut off funding, Nevadans can rest assured that they will not face dangers posed by nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain. Through the establishment of a Blue-Ribbon Commission, we will find a responsible solution to safely managing nuclear waste.”

The Energy Department has been planning to submit the filing for more than a month. The president has said since his election campaign days that he would cancel plans to build a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain.

The state has fought the Energy Department’s plans for more than 20 years. It has concerns about the proposed facility’s proximity to the state’s economic hub, Las Vegas, which is about 90 miles from Yucca Mountain.

Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects Executive Director Bruce Breslow, who has long fought on behalf of Nevada, said that today’s filing was the most beautiful thing he’d seen, aside from his wife.

Congress could still overrule the DOE's decision, according to Marty Malsch, lead attorney for the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects.

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