I-Team: Yucca Mountain Fight Brewing in Nation's Capital

PAHRUMP, Nev. -- A fight between senators in Washington, D.C., could resurrect the controversial Yucca Mountain nuclear storage project in Nye County.

Nye County leaders met Tuesday to support the opening of Yucca Mountain, rehiring consultants to look at the impacts of radioactive waste.

Yucca Mountain is located about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Nye County commissioners were still meeting Tuesday evening and are expected to approve extending those consultant contracts.

The contract extensions come at the same time that U.S. senators are using Yucca Mountain as a bargaining chip in a fight over filibuster reform.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he plans to stop Republicans blocking most legislation by making it possible to pass bills with a simple 51 vote majority.

Republican senate leadership fired back, saying if Reid does that, they will vote to approve storing the nation's nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain.

The entire Nevada congressional delegation said they're against the project.

However, Nye County commissioners in Pahrump said the jobs and federal dollars the nuclear waste would bring in will save their community.

"We are $15 billion and 30 years into this," Nye County Commissioner Dan Schinhofen said. "Now that we are ready to hear the science, the people who are opposed to it are opposed to letting the science be heard. If they are sure and convinced this is bad and unworkable, they should welcome the science being heard.

"That's all we're asking for. We're not saying give it to us come hell or high water."

Some lower level nuclear waste is planned to be stored at the Nevada National Security Site's Area 5 Radioactive Waste Management Complex.

Nye County commissioners said they believe this proves that storing the higher level nuclear waste is safe for the ground water in the area.

Commissioners plan to hire 21 consulting companies of scientists and engineers for $800,000 to test the area's ability to safely store the nuclear waste.

Even if Republican senate leadership gets Yucca Mountain funding past Congress, the funding bill faces a likely presidential veto.

Supporters of storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain cannot seem to gather the votes of two-thirds of the Congress to overcome the veto.


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