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April 23, 2014

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State says report gives wrong impression about Yucca Mountain safety

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 »

CARSON CITY — The state is complaining that an initial federal government report gives the wrong impression that Yucca Mountain would be a safe place to locate a high-level nuclear dump.

Bruce Breslow, executive director of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, says the federal government is starting off on the wrong foot in reviewing the application of the Department of Energy to withdraw its application to build the repository in Southern Nevada.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will make the final decision, and its staff has started the study of the application.

The regulatory staff has agreed with the first application of the Energy Department that it complied with all the safety and land acquisition claims.

Breslow said the regulatory staff’s report was limited, and there are mistakes in its initial report.

He said the staff “must have known that favorable review findings such as this would be touted by Yucca proponents as evidence that the Yucca Mountain Project should proceed over the administration’s objections.”

He said the staff report should have explained in “clear, non-bureaucratic terms” that the first review does not imply that Yucca Mountain is a safe repository site.

Breslow noted there will be five reports by the regulatory staff and the final one won’t be issued until February 2012. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission must then make a final decision whether the project should be shelved or go forward.

Breslow said the initial report by the regulatory staff was limited and swept “apparent deficiencies under the rug.”

He made his complaints in a four-page letter Thursday to the U.S. Nuclear Commission.

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