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Washington Reactions Are Mixed To Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Court Case

Doug Nadvornick

A court has given the Obama administration the go ahead to dismantle a national nuclear waste repository in Nevada. The site would have housed waste from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and the Idaho National Laboratory. Washington and Tri–Cities business leaders will have the chance to challenge the government's plans. But the court rejected a request for a preliminary injunction.


The federal appeals court in the nation's capital agreed to consolidate challenges by Washington state, South Carolina and others. They want the Obama administration to keep the Yucca Mountain operation near Las Vegas on the table. Without it, it's not clear where the government will locate a national repository for nuclear waste.

Washington argues that only Congress, not the US Department of Energy, can abandon the project. Though the court rejected a preliminary injunction, it did agree to put the case on the fast track.

That's a victory for Gary Petersen, one of three people from the Tri–Cities who are plaintiffs in the case.

Gary Petersen: "Really, it's a very positive finding from the court as far as our local case goes and, hopefully, we'll see some good outcome."

Petersen and the state want the court to order the Obama administration to stop the process of shutting down Yucca Mountain until the court rules on Washington's case.

But Gerry Pollet thinks the state's position is wrong. He's the director of the Hanford watchdog group, Heart of America Northwest.

Gerry Pollet: "If the administration wants to withdraw a licensing application because they view it as not being scientifically sound, it is ridiculous to sue them and say, 'you have to go ahead with an unscientifically sound licensing application.'"

Critics of the Yucca Mountain project say the underground site is in an active seismic zone.

The appeals court will hear the case in September. In the meantime, the Obama administration has appointed a blue–ribbon commission to explore other nuclear waste disposal options.

I'm Doug Nadvornick reporting.

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