By Deb Murphy
There had to be some weird karmic energy at last Monday’s District 1 Supervisorial candidate forum. One of the questions leveled at incumbent Dan Totheroh and challenger Lynn Greer concerned Yucca Mountain, a potential site for nuclear waste.
With so much flying out of the White House in the last 18 months, Yucca Mountain had slipped below the horizon, until yesterday.
Vista Congressman Darrell Issa sent out a press release touting passage of the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act that would re-start the nuclear waste repository slated for Nye County, Nevada, just 17 miles from the Inyo County line. The bill, if passed by both Houses, would also increase the capacity at Yucca Mountain from 70,000 metric tons to 110,000 metric tons and provide for interim storage at locations yet to be determined.
More than proximity disturbed Inyo County Supervisors two years ago. The site, a burial place for the Western Shoshone, sits on top of the Amagorsa River and an aquifer that daylights in Death Valley near Tecopa/Shoshone.
The project’s funding was taken off the table by President Barrack Obama but the project never entirely disappeared. Proponents of the project started rumblings when Nevada Senator Harry Reid announced plans to retire. Then, a year ago, the current president’s budget included $150 million to restart the licensing process.
The scab was ripped off the issue late last month with a hearing before the Nevada Interim Legislative Committee on High-Level Radioactive Waste held simultaneously in Las Vegas and Carson City. According to an article in the Las Vegas Sun, the committee’s chair “opted not to hold the work session.”
During the hearing, Henderson resident Mary Rooney, pushed the reprocessing option using technology developed since the repository was first proposed in the 80s, according to the article. But, that idea may be more expensive and dangerous than storing the depleted rods.
The San Diego Union coverage of the House action noted the administration had called for Congress to “come up with $120 million to revive Yucca Mountain and Energy Secretary Rick Perry has said the government has a ‘moral obligation’ to find a solution.
Back in March 2015, attorney Greg James, hired by Inyo County to keep an eye on the project, urged the Board of Supervisors to stay in the game. Inyo had to battle at the outset to be identified as an effected unit of government, a status that allowed governmental bodies to register objections to the project.