Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Facility Explained - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Facility Explained

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The proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain is back up for discussion in Congress, so we take a closer look at the details of the long-defunct project.

The Yucca Mountain site is located about 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas in Nye County, but there's not much to see at the site. The project ran out of money and was abandoned by the Obama administration by 2011. Only a fraction of the project has been built, and even that can't be used without extensive construction.

Right now, the site consists of a five-mile exploratory tunnel underground, which cannot be used for storage or disposal of spent nuclear fuel.
In order to store the waste there, the executive director for the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects explained, it would take about an $85 billion investment, added to the $15 billion that's already been spent there. The site would need about 40 additional miles of tunnels, plus a railroad to ship the waste in.

Officials report that there is currently strong support in Congress to revive the project, although every Nevada representative in Congress has vocally opposed moving forward on Yucca.

The issue stems from spent nuclear fuel which is currently scattered around the country at more than 70 different temporary storage sites. Back in the 80s, Congress authorized the search for a permanent repository, and Yucca was the only site that was ever explored.

Nevada's governor at the time vetoed the choice, but congress overrode it, and the work began. Since then, Nevada has filed more than 200 different legal complaints and former Senator Harry Reid made it a personal goal to see Yucca completely shut down.

Now the issue is back up for discussion with a bill being heard in the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy. Senator Dean Heller, along with representatives Dina Titus, Jacky Rosen, and Ruben Kihuen, are all set to testify in opposition on Wednesday.

The Trump administration budget blueprint does call for money to restart the Yucca licensing program.

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