Yucca Mountain tabbed for nuclear waste storage

| 1/11/2002

Truckers driving along Interstate 95 northwest of Las Vegas could soon be traveling near the nation's permanent burial site for tons of high-level nuclear waste now kept throughout the United States. Federal officials have designated Yucca Mountain to receive thousands of shipments of highly radioactive waste.

About 70,000 tons of radioactive waste are expected to flow to Yucca Mountain by truck and train for about 20 years after it opens in 2010. The site would remain radioactive for 10,000 years.

But waste shipments could begin before 2010, with waste stored in temporary sites until the permanent site opened. Shipments of foreign nuclear waste began last year and were expected to continue through 2009 before they were halted after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Federal officials cited national security as a key reason for approving Yucca Mountain as the sole sight to store waste. Officials believe one site located underground and far away from population centers should be more secure from terrorists. Currently, 313 sites in 39 states house waste. President Bush is expected to accept the recommendation by the U.S. Energy Department on Yucca Mountain.