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Presentation outlines dumping of nuclear waste in Nevada

Reported by: John Treanor
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Updated: 2/18/2014 5:12 pm
LAS VEGAS (KNSV -- Nuclear waste is potentially deadly and could be coming down Las Vegas streets and highways.

The Department of Energy, under congressional mandate, has been planning for several years to ship waste from the country's nuclear power plants to Yucca Mountain, about 65 miles from Las Vegas. News 3 got a look Monday at the potential health risks to Southern Nevadans of those toxic shipments.

The report will be presented to Gov. Brian Sandoval. The report will also be discussed by the Legislative Committee on High-Level Radioactive Waste at 10 a.m. Friday in Room 4412 of the Grant Sawyer State Office Building in Las Vegas.

Downtown’s Fremont Street is one of the most popular spots in a popular city. It is less than a quarter-mile from where potentially dangerous nuclear waste could be passing.

The nuclear repository plan isn't new, but the detailed assessment of possible risks is updated.

Most of the spent nuclear fuel shipments would come from plants in the Midwestern and East Coast states. Some proposed routes would take it through urban areas of Clark County.

“It’s going to come right through the heart of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas, where it will be sent," said Congresswoman Dina Titus, D-Nev.

New 3 obtained a copy of the presentation the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects prepared. It includes an assessment with doubts over Yucca Mountain’s suitability as a repository for the nation’s commercial nuclear waste.

According to the agency, some of the material packed and shipped can cause death in seven seconds.

Under current Department of Energy plans, the waste would be transported to Yucca Mountain mainly by train, and possibly by truck. The primary railroad line through Las Vegas runs directly east of the Clark County Government Center and west of the Plaza Hotel. Also exposed in the event of a transportation spill are the headquarters for the Metropolitan Police Department, Las Vegas City Hall, and a quarter of a million residents.

Two or three trains a week, one or two trucks a week, every week for the next 50 years are projected to come through the area if the repository opens.

“You have to stay ever vigilant,” Titus said. “As long as Senator Reid is there, it isn't going to happen, but there are Republicans who want to get it out of their backyard and into ours.”

To date, the U.S. Senate and the Obama administration have refused to fund further studies at Yucca Mountain.


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