Federal Register Notice Too Little Too Late Five Days to Yucca Mountain Hearing in Las Vegas

August 31, 2001

KANGAROO COURT COUNTDOWN ALERT:

Federal Register Notice Too Little Too Late Five Days to Yucca Mountain Hearing in Las Vegas

NOTE: The U.S. Department of Energy is holding a Sept. 5 hearing in Las Vegas on the government s intention to establish a high-level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Public Citizen will issue “Kangaroo Court Countdown Alerts” each day until the hearing. For more information about Yucca Mountain and nuclear waste, visit www.citizen.org/cmep.

With Labor Day weekend looming and just one business day remaining before the Sept. 5 public hearing on the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today finally published notice in the Federal Register of the new location for this meeting. The DOE yesterday decided to move the hearing to the agency s Nevada Operations Office, a heavily guarded support building for the Nevada Test Site, where atomic weapons testing has been conducted for decades. The agency’s Yucca Mountain Project Web site, which yesterday still inaccurately listed the Suncoast Casino as the meeting venue, was updated only today.

“It s absurd that the Department of Energy is going ahead with this meeting given the fact that the location is changing just days before the meeting, right as many people are heading out of town for a long weekend,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program.

Hearings in Las Vegas (Sept. 5), Amargosa Valley (Sept. 12) and Pahrump (Sept. 13) were initially announced in the Federal Register on August 21, affording only nine business days notice to residents of Las Vegas. This unnecessarily short timeline seemed designed to limit public participation in the hearings, which are required by the Nuclear Waste Policy Act before the DOE formally recommends the Yucca Mountain repository plan to the president. Making matters worse, the last-minute change of venue is certain to cause confusion. The DOE has not responded to requests for the hearings to be postponed.

“The DOE has made a display of legendary incompetence in the process surrounding this hearing,” Hauter concluded. “This is not an agency that should, under any circumstances, be entrusted to manage the nation’s stock of highly radioactive waste.”

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