Outgoing Department of Energy Head
Confident Nevada to Get Nuke Waste
By Steve Miller
copyright © 1996, Electric Nevada
|The odds heavily favor Nevada's Yucca Mountain being okayed for federal storage of nuclear waste, says outgoing Clinton Administration Secretary of Energy Hazel O'Leary.|
with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune last week,
O'Leary estimated Yucca Mountain could be receiving and
storing spent nuclear fuel from around the country by
She put the chances scientists will approve the site as a permanent repository at 85%.
Displaying a mounted rock fragment, the energy secretary said it showed the federal department's progress boring a 5-mile tunnel into Yucca Mountain. The tunnel is to let geologists and other scientists assess whether the site would be a safe place to bury nuclear waste for 10,000 years.
"This piece was given to me on Sept. 25 when we were at mile 4," she told a Minneapolis reporter. "I think they will finish . . . before the spring, maybe by the end of January."
That timetable, said O'Leary, would allow scientists to complete their risk assessment in time for the energy department to still seek, by 1998, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission license to open the Yucca Mountain repository.
Because the Clinton administration is making so much progress toward developing a permanent burial site in
Nevada, said O'Leary,
an interim facility would be a mistake.
are some estimates the
DOE could have to shell out as much as $300 million a
year for at-reactor storage costs, leaving only a $100
million left for a repository and/or interim storage
program -- if in fact the Congress orders one.
Star-Tribune story, in closing, noted that
"Political and scientific hurdles have slowed the
department's search for a disposal site for years.
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