Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

States' Last-Ditch Attempts to Keep out Nuclear Waste ; Nevada and South Carolina Pursue Court Suits against Nuclear Shipments

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

States' Last-Ditch Attempts to Keep out Nuclear Waste ; Nevada and South Carolina Pursue Court Suits against Nuclear Shipments

Article excerpt

Two states - Nevada and South Carolina - are mounting last-ditch efforts to keep nuclear waste from being stored within their borders.

One day after the US Senate approved burying much of the nation's high-level radioactive waste beneath a volcanic mountain in Nevada, state officials are pushing ahead with at least five lawsuits to stop the plan.

In South Carolina, lawyers for Gov. Jim Hodges went to federal court yesterday to keep weapons-grade plutonium from being shipped to a Savannah River facility near the Georgia border. Both states are worried about the safety of transporting the materials and the possible catastrophic effect of leaks near major population centers.

Both states are running out of options.

In Nevada, the reaction ranges from anger to resignation over the US Senate vote Tuesday, which granted final approval of a plan to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, northwest of Las Vegas. The move opens the way for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to license the $58 billion project.

The site is scheduled to open in 2010 and hold 77,000 tons of spent commercial, industrial, and military nuclear fuel. The Environmental Protection Agency says the material must be isolated for 10,000 years.

But Nevada officials vow to continue their court fight against the project, which could mean more delays for a waste proposal that is backed by both President Bush and the nuclear industry. "We will not bargain, we will not negotiate, we will not waver in our determined opposition to Yucca Mountain," says Dario Herrera, chairman of the Clark County Commission.

Nevada has already filed suits in federal court to try to stop the dump from being built at the site, and will now argue to the NRC that the mountain is unsafe for nuclear waste, despite administration claims to the contrary.

In Las Vegas, just 95 miles from the proposed facility, officials say the federal government is ignoring the safety concerns of the region's 1.4 million people. Besides enduring worries about possible leaks in the underground site, critics argue that shipping the waste through more than 40 states to Nevada runs a risk of accident. …

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