U.S., Nevada Leaders in Talks on Disposing Tennessee Nuke Waste

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Aug. 14, 2013, 9:02 a.m.

U.S. fed­er­al and state of­fi­cials sought to ease ten­sions over the fate of some sens­it­ive nuc­le­ar waste, with talks between En­ergy Sec­ret­ary Ern­est Mon­iz and Nevada Gov­ernor Bri­an San­dov­al (R) that were sched­uled for Tues­day, Fox News re­por­ted.

Fed­er­al of­fi­cials have said the state agreed in a series of memos to ac­cept 403 con­tain­ers, each hold­ing around six pounds of urani­um iso­topes 233 and 235, for dis­pos­al. However, San­dov­al main­tains that Nevada nev­er made such a com­mit­ment. The ma­ter­i­als were to have been trans­por­ted from Oak Ridge Na­tion­al Labor­at­ory to Nevada earli­er this year, but with the state re­ject­ing the idea, the can­is­ters nev­er left the Ten­ness­ee lab, ac­cord­ing to Fox.

“The state of Nevada is not aware of any signed memos between the state and DOE re­gard­ing the ap­prov­al of the ma­ter­i­al in ques­tion,” the gov­ernor’s com­mu­nic­a­tion dir­ect­or, Mac By­bee, told the tele­vi­sion net­work.

Mon­iz on Tues­day told re­port­ers that “we agreed to do a dif­fer­ent em­place­ment, a deep­er em­place­ment. And we did that at the re­quest of the state and we’re happy to do so,” Las Ve­gas Re­view-Journ­al re­por­ted.

The ori­gin­al DOE plan for the urani­um waste — which is con­sidered low-level risk for mak­ing a nuc­le­ar weapon but holds the po­ten­tial for fash­ion­ing in­to a dirty bomb — was to bury it in a shal­low land­fill at the Nevada Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Site, loc­ated 65 miles out­side of Las Ve­gas, ac­cord­ing to the Re­view-Journ­al.

In ad­di­tion, Mon­iz said “we have agreed and did the ana­lys­is to look at a 10,000-year time ho­ri­zon vs. our stand­ard rule of look­ing at a 1,000-year time ho­ri­zon.”

Mean­time, the long em­battled Yucca Moun­tain site is one step closer to re­ceiv­ing nuc­le­ar de­trit­us, after an ap­peals court voted 2-1 that Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion ef­forts to aban­don the loc­a­tion “vi­ol­ate the law” that des­ig­nates Yucca Moun­tain as the na­tion­al atom­ic waste re­pos­it­ory.

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