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October 1, 2014

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Sandoval, energy secretary ‘agree to disagree,’ continue discussions on nuclear waste shipment

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Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval delivers the State of the State address at the Legislature in Carson City on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013.

In a conversation with Gov. Brian Sandoval on Thursday, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz didn’t back down on plans to ship radioactive waste canisters and bury them at the Nevada National Security Site.

Sandoval said he had a “frank and blunt conversation” on the telephone with the secretary.

“While we agreed to disagree on specific points, we committed to having a continued, open dialogue and further discussions on this important matter,” the governor said in a press release.

Sandoval, returning from a trade mission to Mexico, was not available to personally answer questions.

“I thank the secretary for taking the time to speak with me today and look forward to working toward a solution,” his prepared statement said.

Moniz ignored the first request by Sandoval made on June 20 to discuss the burial of the waste. When Moniz failed to respond, Sandoval sent an open letter to the energy secretary on July 12.

They agreed to a telephone meeting.

The Energy Department plans to ship radioactive waste from Oak Ridge, Tenn., to Area 5 of the Nevada site for burial about 40 feet deep in the desert landfill.

The canisters carry reactor fuel that contains fissionable Uranium 233 and Uranium 235 that the DOE characterizes as low-level radioactive waste.

The governor believes the waste is not low-level and is unsafe for burial.

In his open letter, Sandoval said the state and the Energy Department must “develop a more effective and collaborative approach for addressing all DOE activities in the state, which must include more effective consultation with local governments and Native American tribes.”

The governor did not say when there would be further talks about the waste.

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