Runoff near nuclear waste repository worries residents

Stormwater flowing down Yucca Mountain, where high-level nuclear waste is being stored, is worrying Las Vegas residents, according to a report from the Las Vegas Sun newspaper.

May 10th, 2001

May 9, 2001—Stormwater flowing down Yucca Mountain, where high-level nuclear waste is being stored, is worrying Las Vegas residents, according to a report from the Las Vegas Sun newspaper.

A new draft report from the Department of Energy (DOE) shows that similar drainage happened at the Nevada Test Site, where atomic testing happened from 1951 to 1992.

Yucca Mountain, which is 90 miles from Las Vegas, is being studied as a permanent repository for 77,000 tons of commercial and defense waste, but no proof has been found of any radioactive contamination off the site.

A U.S. Geological Survey study showed flash flooding in the area which includes Yucca Mountain and the Test Site could close highways and interfere with above-ground repository work. The report said during flash flooding the normally underground Amargosa river could flow above ground, possibly causing stormwater to travel as far as Death Valley in California.

The report was bases on analysis of stormwater data during two large storms in 1995 and 1998.

An environmental impact study will look at USGS' stormwater observations. In the meantime, the comment period for DOE's draft proposal on the repository site has been extended to June 15.

To avoid heavy stormwater runoff, the DOE said it will build facilities away from flood-prone areas and divert runoff into constructed channels. DOE said it will release a final environmental impact study at the end of 2001.

To see a copy of the DOE's Yucca Mountain reports, visit http://www.ymp.gov.

For more information on the issue, visit www.lasvegassun.com.

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