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Wednesday, July 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Washington Sues Over Yucca Shutdown

(CN) - The state of Washington claims the Department of Energy lacked the authority to pull the plug on Yucca Mountain, a proposed nuclear dump site outside Las Vegas that President Obama shut down shortly after taking office.

Washington wants a federal judge in the nation's capital to force the DOE to keep developing the site until the dispute has worked its way through the courts.

The DOE's implementation of Obama's order drew legal opposition from Aiken County, S.C., the state of South Carolina, the Hanford nuclear plant and now Washington state.

A federal appeals court gave the DOE until Thursday to submit its answer to the proposed injunction, and Washington must answer by Friday.

Washington says it will "suffer irreparable harm" if the DOE closes Yucca. The state claims it has an interest in the repository due to the "massive amounts of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel" stored at the Hanford nuclear plant near Richland, Wash.

"Approximately 1 million gallons of high-level waste has already leaked into Washington's air, soil and water, and this leakage is expected to continue," Attorney General Robert McKenna claims in Federal Court in Washington, D.C.

McKenna says Congress designated Yucca Mountain "as suitable for a permanent repository" after 20 years of investigation.

"DOE's decision to irrevocably terminate the Yucca Mountain project in favor of an unknown and yet-to-be-identified alternative violates the National Environmental Policy Act," McKenna claims.

He says the shut-down also violates the Nuclear Waste Policy Act and the Administrative Procedures Act.

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