County Commissioners have sent another letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission commenting on its recent supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Yucca Mountain Repository regarding water and transportation issues.
Connie Simkins of the Lincoln County Nuclear Oversight Program said the NRC has been making decisions based on out-of-date figures from 2000.
The new Basin and Range Monument has interrupted a possible railroad route to Yucca Mountain and that now needs to be discussed by the NRC and the U.S. Department of Energy, but has not been as yet, Simkins explained.
“This might bring back into play a Caliente route that at one time had been proposed, or it might mean hauling the waste on trucks in specially designed castes, and the need for possibly new roads, heavy haul roads, or supplemental roads, are all things that still have to be looked at.”
In January 2015, Simkins said a letter was sent to the DOE “commenting on things we thought ought to be in the final EIS, and quite frankly, they came awful close to ignoring us.”
An area of considerable concern is the flow of the groundwater and which direction it might go after leaving Yucca Mountain. One report Simkins referred to said the water could flow from Indian Springs, eastward under the Sheep Range and into the Coyote Springs Valley. “But this is shown to be uncertain,” she said. “So we are advocating that it is made certain where the flow would go, for it could impact wells owned by the Lincoln County Water District, Southern Nevada Water Authority, Coyote Springs General Improvement District, Alamo Irrigation, the town of Alamo, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, private and agricultural wells, certificated springs and range livestock operations. It is really important to know for the health and well-being of our citizens.”
Even certain Nevada officials are disputing the NRC finding regarding the impact reports. A recent article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal noting a letter from Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects Executive Director Robert Halstead, that entombing 77,000 tons of used nuclear fuel and highly radioactive waste in a maze of tunnels at Yucca Mountain would also likely impact traditional American Indian water sources used by Western Shoshone tribes. “Contaminating groundwater over time as nuclear waste containers deteriorate would violate environmental laws.”
Simkins said other matters of concern to be included in the county commissioners’ letter would deal with “cumulative impacts, and whether a new route is required because of the Basin and Range Monument, and the risks could be significantly different and need to be reviewed.”
Speculation has long been that since Senator Harry Reid has been so opposed to Yucca Mountain, he pushed hard for the Basin and Range Monument so a railroad line to the repository could not be built there.
Something else not addressed in the EIS, Simkins mentioned, was “foreseeable future actions, which is required for the EIS. In our comment letter, we ask to have public scoping on some of these issues and to include the already admitted NEPA contentions, which have been ignored.”
Commissioners approved the sending of the letter with no revisions.