ELKO — Yucca Mountain, the long contested site for nuclear waste storage in southern Nevada, isn’t dead yet, according to supporters.
Elko County Commissioners voted Wednesday in favor of a resolution to reopen discussions — a debate some state officials believed to be long settled.
Nye County Commissioner Dan Schinhofin, who asked for the item to be on Elko County’s agenda, characterized the resolution as a call for further inquiry into the facts surrounding Yucca Mountain. However, a draft of the document asks that — among other things — the Yucca Mountain licensing process move forward with a detailed review of the application. And a fact sheet provided to the commission states that three independent groups — Nye County being one of them — have determined the Yucca Mountain project is safe.
“It is time to start considering the benefits Nevada can receive when the repository is built,” it states.
Elko County commissioners said they weren’t necessarily voting to open Yucca Mountain, but to “hear the science.”
“At some point in time, we’re probably going to be asked to take a position,” Commission Chairman Charlie Myers said. “And how in the world can we take a position if we don’t have the information to make a good decision?”
Although commissioners said they were in favor of learning more about the project, they didn’t want that support to be construed as a position against Gov. Brian Sandoval and other state leaders who have publicly opposed Yucca Mountain.
In a letter to the legislative committee on high-level radioactive waste, dated Aug. 13, 2012, Sandoval reiterated the state’s unwavering bipartisan opposition.
“Studies by the State of Nevada and others over the past three decades have shown that Yucca Mountain is an unsafe place for disposing of dangerous spent nuclear fuel and other highly radioactive wastes because the site is incapable of isolating the waste from people and the environment for the extremely long time period necessary,” he wrote.
Commissioner Glen Guttry said he received a correspondence from Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., that stated he wasn’t resolutely opposed to Yucca Mountain.
Jeff Williams said dumping nuclear waste in one’s backyard is not an “appetizing” idea. However, he said, the state should allow all information to be scrutinized.
“If it’s found not to be safe, I definitely don’t want it,” Schinhofin added.
White Pine, Churchill, Nye, Esmeralda, Mineral, Lander and Lincoln counties supported similar resolutions.
Douglas County Commissioners asked for more information before voting for it, Schinhofin said.