What’s next for the infamous Yucca Mountain? It’s a question that’s been on the table for quite some time. Two hours northwest of Las Vegas, it was set to become our nation’s permanent high-level nuclear waste repository. Selected from two other sites through the 1987 Nuclear Waste Policy Act Amendments, it was supposed to begin accepting nuclear waste in the mid-90s. Needless to say, this did not happen. And now, it never will (unless subsequent lawsuits prevail). The Obama Administration officially pulled the request from consideration. In pulling it, the request cannot be considered again.
So now the question remains: What will we do with the nearly 70,000 tons of waste currently being held on-site at our nation’s nuclear power plants? The President’s Blue Ribbon Commission has been charged with answering that very question. In the meantime, the General Accountability Office (GAO), per the request of Majority Leader Reid, attempted to figure out what we can do with this $90 million (to date) project. Today, they released 30 recommendations for how to use the vast 230-square-mile site.
According to CNN, 10 of these suggestions involve nuclear storage in some capacity, such as making it a site for “interim” nuclear waste storage. Others include a facility on highly infectious diseases, a university to teach mining techniques, a secure data storage site, a training site for first responders, a strategic petroleum reserve for the western states, a command center for unmanned aerial vehicles, and a commercial energy park for various types of energy generation.
It’s clear that the site can be many things–but it cannot become any one of these things until the dust is officially settled and lawsuits have clarified that it is no longer the answer to our long-term nuclear storage problem.
Until then, the battle for Yucca continues….