Yucca Mountain Lawsuits
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Overview/Background: Over the past decade, the State of Nevada has filed multiple lawsuits against the federal government regarding the Yucca Mountain Project. Most of these lawsuits were consolidated into four cases (see links below) that were heard at the District of Columbia Court of Appeals on January 14, 2004. The judges dismissed most of Nevada's claims, but they did rule in favor of the State's complaint against radiation standards for the nuclear waste repository. The ruling poses a significant setback for the project.
Nonetheless, DOE remains positive about the Court of Appeal's ruling. "I am pleased with today's decisions handed down by the Court," said Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham in a July 9 statement. "The Court dismissed all challenges to the site selection of Yucca Mountain." As for the 10,000 year safety standard, Abraham said, "DOE will be working with the EPA and Congress to determine appropriate steps to address this issue."
The rest of Nevada's challenges, including the Constitutional case claiming Nevada's sovereign rights as a state were being violated, and the Recommendations case claiming DOE and President Bush acted illegally in recommending Yucca Mountain, were dismissed by the judges.
However, the last pages of the court's ruling contained a concession giving Nevada the power to challenge DOE's Environmental Impact Statement for Yucca Mountain in any DOE or Nuclear Regulatory Commission proceeding. "This means issues such as DOE's rejection of the "no-action" alternative (continued on-site storage), its transportation plan, and its violation of Nevada's hazardous waste laws are now fully addressable in courts of law," said Attorney General Sandoval. The ruling came 7 months after a 3 ½ hour hearing in D.C.
Read The Details — The Major Yucca Mountain Lawsuits and the Court Hearing
In addition to the major Yucca Mountain lawsuits , the State of Nevada has filed other claims against the Department of Energy (DOE) regarding oversight funding, the public Yucca Mountain information database, and DOE's plan to build a rail line for waste shipment in Southern Nevada. The Energy Department, for its part, has been fighting the State in court for water rights at Yucca Mountain. See links below for more details.