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Las Vegas Yucca Mountain Hearing Relocates to Prison-like Complex

August 30, 2001


Las Vegas Yucca Mountain Hearing Relocates to Prison-like Complex

Six 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.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – ?A Las Vegas hearing on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) intention to develop Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste dump will now take place in a heavily guarded DOE building in North Las Vegas. The building, DOE’s support building for its atomic weapons testing program, is situated in an industrial area and is surrounded by a chain-link fence and armed security guards. The prevailing prison-like atmosphere hardly welcomes public participation.

An Aug. 21 Federal Register notice announced that the hearing would take place at the Suncoast Casino, but earlier this week, the casino declined to host the event. Although an alternate venue has not officially been announced in the Federal Register, the DOE said today it intends to relocate the hearing to its Nevada Operations Office, which is a support building for the federal Nevada Test Site, where atomic weapons testing has been conducted for decades.

“The DOE is making a mockery of the process for public participation ” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program.

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act mandates the DOE to hold hearings in the Yucca Mountain vicinity prior to recommending Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository. The DOE has come under attack in recent days for prematurely scheduling the hearings without a basis for recommending the site. A required environmental impact statement has not been released, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not issued licensing regulations, and the DOE is relying on proposed changes to siting guidelines that have yet to be finalized.

In addition, the DOE has yet to make available detailed information about the massive nuclear transportation scheme that would be launched if Yucca Mountain were approved. Projected routing scenarios indicate that 77,000 tons of high-level radioactive waste from commercial nuclear reactors and the DOE weapons complex would be shipped through 43 states within half a mile of the homes, schools and workplaces of 50 million Americans.

“The DOE is afraid to publicize the details of this dangerous and unprecedented plan for cross-country nuclear waste shipments,” Hauter said. “The agency is trying to downplay the significance of this proposal to mute widespread public opposition.”

Adding insult to injury, the hearings to be held in Las Vegas, Amargosa Valley and Pahrump on Sept. 5, 12 and 13, respectively were scheduled at incredibly short notice during a time of year when many people take vacations. Residents of Las Vegas received only nine business days notice and, with just six days remaining until the hearing, the new venue has yet to be officially announced.

Public Citizen has received no response from the DOE on its request yesterday to cancel the September hearings and discontinue all site recommendation activities until outstanding technical and regulatory issues have been resolved.