On February 1, 2010, the proposed federal budget for fiscal year 2011, which begins Oct. 1, 2010, was released. The new budget could eliminate funding related to the licensing proceeding for Yucca Mountain. At the same time, funds were provided to develop a new nuclear waste management strategy, as well as credit subsidies for renewable energy and energy-efficient projects.

Then, on March 3, the Department of Energy officially withdrew its pending license application for a permanent geologic nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain “with prejudice,” which means that DOE could not refile its application for a repository at Yucca Mountain at some future time.

At President Obama’s direction, Energy Secretary Steven Chu established the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. It is expected to make recommendations for managing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle, including storage, processing and disposal of civilian and defense spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste.

The Native Community Action Council, representing the Shoshone and Paiute communities, were granted admission as a party to the legal processes of licensing. NCAC presented three objections to the licensing of the facility. First, NCAC demonstrated the lands at Yucca Mountain remain Indian lands. Judges agreed this is a viable legal claim on which to submit a contention. They accepted our argument that the Shoshone claim to the lands is a “cloud” on the United States assertion of title. However, they did not accept the argument that this land is reserved by the Treaty of Ruby Valley.

Additionally, the NRC accepted our right to argue that environmental review of the proposed facility failed to adequately account for the damage that could be caused to cultural practices of Shoshone and Paiute people.

The NCAC will remain actively involved in the licensing proceeding and monitor all Yucca Mountain-related activities and new developments.

What is Yucca Mountain?

Yucca Mountain is the Department of Energy’s proposed national geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants and high-level radioactive waste from national defense sources. It is located approximately 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Yucca Mountain was scheduled to open in 1998. Now, using the most optimistic projections, it would not open until 2020, more than two decades behind schedule.

Nevada’s leaders and legislators, as well as representatives from the scientific community, have expressed concerns about the project for many years.

The Department of Energy is currently preparing to submit its license application by June 30, 2008.

The Moapa Band of Paiutes urges the Department of Energy to pursue the efficacy of on-site storage, rather than the pursuit of Yucca Mountain as a repository.

Why we oppose Yucca Mountain:

First, Yucca Mountain is the home of the Southern Paiute’s ancestral lands. We are stewards of the Earth, and believe contamination by nuclear waste is not in the best interest of the land.

Additionally, the development of Yucca Mountain as a high-level nuclear waste repository could require the transportation of radioactive waste through or near the Moapa Paiute Reservation. Existing rail lines, and Interstate highway 15 run through the Moapa Reservation.

Indian Perspectives on Yucca Mountain Video

The establishment of a high-level nuclear waste repository in Nevada would diminish the safety of the members of the Moapa Paiutes.

Resources to learn more about Yucca Mountain:

Clark County Nuclear Waste Program

State of Nevada Nuclear Waste Project

Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Environmental Protection Agency

Yucca Mountain Project


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