Eureka County is one of nine Nevada counties receiving funds from the U.S. Department of Energy. The funds are used to oversee and protect the interests of the county in relation to the DOE's proposal to study Yucca Mountain as a proposed site for the nation's high-level radioactive waste.
Eureka receives grant funds from DOE because the county is contiguous to Nye County and is considered to be an "affected local government" under the law. The money comes from the Nuclear Waste Fund, collected from the consumers of nuclear power.
Eureka's approach to the Yucca Mountain project is cautious. From the first, the Commissioners identified the need to inform residents about the project and to ensure that an ongoing program of public education was available. An office was established, an information officer, Carol Bleuss, was hired. Public meetings and this newsletter were developed with the assistance of nuclear waste consultant Abby Johnson.
Eureka also identified the need to develop historical and current socio-cultural data about Eureka County, laying a base for analysis of projected impacts that might occur. The county hired Robert McCracken to conduct oral histories. A socioeconomic trends and analysis report is also in the preliminary stages and will be completed by Planning Information Corporation (PIC) of Denver.
PIC was chosen by the Commissioners to provide a variety of services related to Yucca Mountain impacts. In addition to the socioeconomic report, they will prepare a needs assessment and recommendations on the development of a Geographic Information System (GIS) to track possible Yucca Mountain impacts. A GIS is a computerized system of data and maps, used as a tool to analyze geographic information graphically. For example, the system could display land use and flood zones within the county and is an asset for any mapping, planning or development project.
PIC will also prepare an issues identification report on the DOE's proposed "Carlin rail route." The report will highlight the key issues the Commission and residents should be concerned about regarding the proposed rail route which would bisect the county. The first phase of PIC's work will be completed by the end of the summer. We will report in upcoming ussues about the findings of the rail route report and GIS progress.