The trade group for the U.S. casino industry this month, in a letter to Congress, reaffirmed its opposition to development of a nuclear waste repository under Yucca Mountain, Nev.
Addressing all members of the 116th Congress, the American Gaming Association noted that the long-planned underground disposal facility would be built 90 miles from the nation’s mecca of gambling: Las Vegas.
“A problem with the transport of nuclear waste to the site, or an issue with its storage there, would bring potentially devastating consequences to local, state and national economies,” according to the letter, dated Feb. 6, which lays out the American Gaming Association’s priorities for 2019.
The Washington, D.C.-based organization noted that 42 percent of revenue in the Nevada state general fund is drawn from taxes on Nevada’s tourism industry. “[E]ven a modest decline in visitors’ perception about the region could have severe negative implications for the state’s economy and future growth,” the letter says. “We appreciate your attention to the concerns of Nevada citizens, business community and state’s congressional delegation by ensuring radioactive waste is never stored anywhere near Las Vegas.”
Congress in 1987 designated Yucca Mountain as the ultimate disposal site for the nation’s high-level radioactive waste from defense nuclear operations and spent fuel from commercial nuclear power reactors. The Department of Energy filed its license application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2008, but the Obama administration defunded the proceeding two years later. The Trump administration has twice unsuccessfully asked Congress to appropriate funds to DOE and the NRC to restart the process, and issue observers expect a similar proposal in its fiscal 2020 budget plan. That appears likely to be rolled out in March, after being delayed by the recent partial shutdown of the federal government.