Agriculture and grazing could be "substantially disrupted" by the Department of Energy's (DOE) proposed Carlin Rail Route, according to a report for the Eureka County Commission. The route through Pine Valley could affect water, flood plain, wetlands, wildlife, and land use.
The Issues Identification Report for the Carlin Rail Route Option projects that "the existence of a highly visible and secured rail line bisecting Eureka County, carrying extremely noxious material, and potentially a target for protest or sabotage will have many unforeseeable but potentially severe impacts on the country and its citizens." The report was funded by Eureka County's Nuclear Waste Repository Program through a grant from DOE.
The proposed Carlin rail route is a 365-mile corridor that would link the northern rail lines of the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific, bisecting Eureka County, to bring high-level radioactive waste to the proposed repository site at Yucca Mountain. Two other rail spurs, the Jean and Caliente options, are also under consideration; only the Caliente option has been studied by the DOE.
DOE estimates that the Carlin rail option would cost about $760 million in 1990 dollars, with a projected annual cost of $2.9 to $3.3 million for operation and maintenance.
The report states that the rail route could provide economic benefits by allowing for agriculture, mining, and light industry transportation if the rail line has shared use. Tourism and business attraction could be negatively affected as a result of concerns about the safety of nuclear transport. Radiological emergencies would be the biggest burden for local government.
The report contains maps of the county with color overlays to show potential impacts. The maps were made using the computerized Geographic Information System being developed for the county by Planning Information Corporation (PIC), which prepared the report. Included are maps which pinpoint private land areas, ranches, military operations areas, and historic rail routes in the vicinity of the Carlin route.
Steve Campbell of PIC is scheduled to make a presentation about the Carlin Route impacts at a public forum on nuclear waste transportation at the Eureka High School in March of 1994. All readers of the Update will be notified about the Forum.
The report is available at area libraries, and at the Yucca Mountain Information Office in Eureka. For more information, call Carol Bleuss at 237-5407.