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Federal budget cuts mean smaller-scale Yucca Mountain project in Nevada


The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) proposed 319-mile rail line between a Union Pacific Railroad mainline near Caliente, Nev., and a new Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site appears to be on thin ice.

Late last month, the Obama Administration proposed deep federal budget cuts for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump, which has been in the planning stages for more than 20 years. The DOE planned to use the rail line to transport spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste for disposal at mountain repository and provide common-carrier rail service to communities along the route.

"The Yucca Mountain program will be scaled back to those costs necessary to answer inquiries from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, while the administration devises a new strategy toward nuclear waste disposal,” DOE officials said in a prepared statement.

A Nevada congressional delegation that opposes the program expressed “enthusiasm” about the budget cuts, which make it clear that the “federal government is moving away from Yucca Mountain and looking for better solutions to dealing with nuclear waste,” delegation members said in a joint statement.

“The Nevada delegation has been united in its fight to kill Yucca and have said all along that a new strategy is necessary,” said Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.). “I’m hopeful that a ‘scaled back’ Yucca is a Yucca that never happens. This project is dead, and this announcement is another indicator that our efforts are paying off.”

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More News from 3/5/2009