Earthquakes Shake Up The Yucca Mountain Debate


(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Visitors cross highway 178 next to a crack left on the road by an earthquake Sunday, July 7, 2019, near Ridgecrest, Calif.

The earthquakes that rocked Nevada last week could also shake up the debate on Yucca Mountain. 

Rep. Dina Titus pointed to the tremors as proof that the facility north of Las Vegas is not a good place to store nuclear waste. 

“We’ve known there are fault lines in that area and that’s been part of our argument," she said, "but this very visibly proves the point. They try to argue that there are no showstoppers. You can accommodate anything, but I believe our argument when things are flying off shelves and the earth is cracking open is much more persuasive.”

Supporters of the Yucca Mountain project maintain that seismic activity in the area has been taken into consideration but Titus doubts that.

“It’s all, I believe, based more on politics than on policy and I just don’t trust the science that’s being done and supported by the industry that wants to build that facility,” she said.

The congresswoman also points to the recent train derailment in Elko County in June as a sign of the potential dangers of transporting nuclear waste to the facility.

Titus believes the whole process of selecting a site for high-level nuclear waste needs to be restarted. Originally, Congress was going to look at a repository for the East Coast and one for the West Coast.

Support comes from

But that plan devolved into picking only one place: Nevada. A process that lawmakers in the state have long dubbed "The Screw Nevada Bill."

Titus wants the places picked for the waste storage to given a choice and allowed to consent to the storage. She says that is how it is done in other countries. 

In addition, she said there is no urgency to moving the waste because the places it is being held now can store it for another 100 years.

“People are just anxious to get it out of their backyard and put it in ours,” she said.

Nevada lawmakers have another reason not to trust what the Department of Energy has to say about Yucca Mountain. The department announced this week that it had been mistakenly sending mislabeled waste to the Nevada Test Site.

“Another example of what I’ve been saying all along, you cannot trust the DOE," Titus said. "Either they’re totally incompetent or they’re just lying to us."

Rep. Steven Horsford, D-NV, has called on Secretary Rick Perry to resign his position because of the mishap that has been going for six years.

Titus doesn't believe Perry should have been appointed in the first place and doesn't believe the DOE will remove the mistaken waste.

Perry is not the only secretary the Nevada Democrats are calling on to resign. 

Department of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta is also on the list. They say he did not do enough to bring justice to the girls who were allegedly abused by hedge fund manager and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

In a news conference, Acosta defended his decision on the plea agreement with Epstein. The secretary said that he was concerned that Epstein would walk unless he struck this deal.
Titus does not believe Acosta's argument, but she also doesn't believe President Trump and his team properly vetted the secretary in the first place.

“The president is kind of a sex abuser himself so I guess he really didn’t mind if Epstein was let go by somebody he was appointing to the Department of Labor,” she said.


Dina Titus, congresswoman, Nevada Congressional District 1

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