The proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada could conceivably end up receiving 150,000 metric tons of radioactive waste by the second half of this century, according to a Nevada state government analysis of a proposed U.S. Senate bill to speed up that project.
The April 29 memo from Bob Halstead, executive director of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, is another salvo in the state’s decades-long fight against the planned Department of Energy disposal site. In this case, the target is legislation pending from Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.).
The discussion draft of the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2019 also, according to Halstead: would allow a mobile retrievable storage facility in Nevada; does not guarantee the nation’s nuclear wastes would avoid Las Vegas while being sent to Yucca Mountain; and ignores adverse economic impacts if something goes wrong with the transportation and storage of the wastes.
Barrasso’s draft is effectively identical to 2017 legislation from Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) that died in the Senate. It contains a set of measures to advance both temporary storage of the nation’s nuclear waste in a small number of locations and the final repository in Nevada.
The proposed bill would increase the limit of wastes at the proposed Yucca Mountain repository from 70,000 metric tons to 110,000 metric tons. “If this change is permitted, Congress will almost certainly further revise upward or eliminate the capacity limit,” Halstead wrote in his memo to the state’s congressional delegation and Gov. Steve Sisolak (D).
The analysis estimated that the United States will create 150,000 metric tons of high-level radioactive waste and spent fuel by 2050. While a second repository closer to the East Coast had at one been considered in the disposal plan, Congress in 1987 limited the disposal approach to Yucca Mountain.