Washington to argue for Yucca Mountain waste storage project

Mar 21, 2011

Japan's nuclear reactor crisis has sharpened the debate over where the U.S. will store its radioactive waste in the long-term. Tuesday the State of Washington and other plaintiffs will argue in federal court that the Obama administration should not abandon the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada.

Last year President Obama appointed a Blue Ribbon panel to find a permanent repository for radioactive waste, like the kind found at Hanford in southeast Washington.

The administration specifically excluded the site that's been under construction -- Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

The state and three other groups of plaintiffs argue with no Yucca site, then all the planning, engineering and building of a massive $12 billion federal plant in southeast Washington might be for nothing.

The vitrification, or 'vit' plant, at Hanford was built to turn radioactive sludge into glass logs.

Andy Fitz is senior council for Washington's Attorney General, Rob McKenna. Fitz says those logs are designed specifically for Yucca Mountain:

"And in our opinion there is no guarantee that glass product, at least the way it’s packaged and ready to go will be acceptable at a different facility."

The Yucca case is being heard in United States District Court for the District of Columbia.