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White House Mulls Nuke Waste Issue

February 25, 1999

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) _ The Clinton administration is considering a plan that would stockpile thousands of tons of nuclear waste at sites around the country instead of moving the material to temporary storage in Nevada.

Members of Nevada’s congressional delegation and Gov. Kenny Guinn said Energy Secretary Bill Richardson was expected to present the plan today at a Senate hearing.

The Department of Energy wants to create a permanent dump at Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Pending completion of that project, the waste was to have been stored temporarily at a site near Yucca.

``It doesn’t make good policy sense to move this waste before a permanent repository is built,″ Richardson said in today’s Washington Post. ``Our objective is to solve the problem, and this is the start of the dialogue.″

Guinn said Richardson would back the idea of dry-cask storage of radioactive fuel at 77 sites throughout the nation where the waste is generated.

``It would take Nevada from fighting two battles _ on temporary storage and a permanent dump _ to one battle on the permanent dump,″ said Jenny Backus, spokeswoman for Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

The Energy Department’s effort to build the dump has been pushed heavily by the nuclear energy industry for several years and has been fought just as vigorously by Nevada.

The Yucca Mountain site is not expected to be available until at least 2010.

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