Nevada Sues Over Yucca Mountain Radiation Standard

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto announced that her office is filing suit to seek a court invalidation of the recently announced EPA radiation standard for the proposed high-level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.

EPA's issuance of the final standard Sept. 30, 2008, comes roughly three weeks after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) formally docketed the Department of Energy (DOE) repository application for licensing review. NRC, whose own repository licensing requirements must reflect the EPA standard, has said it cannot license a repository until the final EPA standard is in place. As with the draft standard EPA issued nearly three years ago, the final standard is a two-tiered regulation that would establish for 1 million years the levels of radiation from a repository at Yucca Mountain. EPA retained its earlier proposed 15 millirem annual dose limit for the first 10,000 years after the waste is emplaced, but allows up to 100 millirem dose after 10,000 years, Nevada officials said.

“The new EPA standard once again fails to protect the health and safety of Nevada citizens, and the environment,” said Cortez Masto. "EPA has obviously worked closely with DOE to adjust its radiation standard in an attempt to steamroll this project through licensing, but has failed to protect Nevadans from cancer-causing radioactive contamination. DOE’s own data shows that water infiltration will corrode nuclear waste packages and radioactivity will inevitably leak into Nevada's groundwater, delivering lethal doses of radiation to the public and irreparably contaminating the groundwater.”

More information on the EPA standard can be found at http://ohsonline.com/Articles/2008/10/6EPA-Issues-Final-Yucca-Mountain-Standards.aspx.

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