Not Yucca Mountain, But DOE And Nevada Agree to Keep Talking About Oak Ridge Waste

Top officials from Nevada are insisting that an agreement with the federal government that includes discussions involving a relatively small amount of radioactive waste from Tennessee does not constitute a change in the state's opposition to development of a federal repository at Yucca Mountain.

But it does involve Nevada taking on radioactive waste from another state, which would be buried at the Nevada National Security Site, formerly the Nevada Test Site.

Nevada National Security SiteNevada Gov. Brian Sandoval hailed the agreement to continue holding senior level discussions with the DOE touching on various concerns with the federal facility, calling it a milestone achievement. A key portion of the talks involves the fate of 403 small containers of solid radioactive waste and sundry contaminated items that was almost shipped in 2013, before plans were derailed.

“We finally have a meaningful dialogue,” the Arizona Daily Star quoted Director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Leo Drozdoff as saying.

The Yucca Mountain site, which remains controversial and unsettled, is on the western border of the 1,360-square-mile Nevada National Security Site, which could be the destination for 100 shipments of waste from Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

The agreement calls for the continuation of the so-called Nevada National Security Site Working Group, which has been discussing the possibility of shipping 403 canisters of solid radioactive waste the size of baseball bats, the Star reported. Plans include burying the canisters in 40-foot trenches and covering them with shipping containers full of sundry Oak Ridge items, such as worker uniforms and machine parts. The trench would then be covered with eight feet of dirt.

The plan was ready for implementation in 2013, but the local opposition, demands for a National Environmental Policy Act review and hesitant state officials have delayed its implementation.

The shipments from Oak Ridge would be managed by the Office of Secure Transportation, which is managed by the DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration.

It took more than a year for the Nevada National Security Site Working Group to get to the agreement announced Tuesday.

Nevada Security Site facility spokesperson Darwin Morgan said shipments from Oak Ridge could begin in early 2015.

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