On May 20, 1998, two representatives from the Department of Energy (DOE), Max Powell and Bob Lupton, briefed the Eureka County Board of Commissioners on the current status of the Yucca Mountain Repository project. In the Commission review of the potential rail corridors presented at the meeting, it was noticed that the proposed Carlin rail corridor had changed. Apparently, the new corridor will be evaluated in the upcoming Yucca Mountain Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), scheduled for release next summer.
In the original proposal, the Carlin rail route would leave the Union Pacific tracks at Carlin and head south toward Monitor Valley. DOE’S new maps show the route leaving the UP tracks at Beowawe instead. The revised rail route would not bisect Eureka County, but head southwest from Beowawe through Crescent Valley, bisecting Lander County, going through either Monitor or the Big Smokey Valley, and continuing south to Yucca Mountain.
The county has now received a copy of the “Nevada Potential Repository Preliminary Transportation Strategy,” known as “Study #2,” which defines a five mile wide route study corridor. The map presented at the DOE briefing was part of the “Potential Rail Alignment Corridors Study prepared by Morrison-Knudsen, Boise Idaho, 1997,” which narrows the study corridor to one quarter mile width, according to DOE transportation specialist Phil Gehner.
The Commissioners have requested a copy of the contractor’s report from DOE to help them assess potential impacts that the new rail corridor could have on Eureka County residents (click here to see letter of request). DOE is expected to reply to the Commission request by September 1. Although the rail corridor changes are substantial, officials from DOE’s Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (OCRWM) have stated that route options are purely conjecture at this point and no final decisions will be made until Yucca Mountain is approved as a suitable repository site.