Yucca Mountain Rail Corridor Impact Study

Prepared for:
Eureka County

Prepared by:
Lumos & Associates and
Parsons Brinkerhoff

May 2004


The Eureka County Rail Corridor Impact Study identifies construction and operation issues associated with development of the Carlin Alignment, a proposed U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) rail route that would transport high-level nuclear waste and spent nuclear fuel from the mainline Union Pacific Railroad to theproposed Yucca Mountain repository in southern Nevada. This alignment originates near Beowawe and continues southwest across Eureka County for approximately 18.5 miles before entering Lander County near the Cortez Gold Mine. The Department of Energy has conducted several studies of the potential transportation routes since 1990, with the most recent being the February 2002 Final Environmental Impact Statement for a Geologic Repository for the Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste at Yucca Mountain, Nye County,Nevada. This Department of Energy Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) describes the general impacts of the entire 325 mile Carlin Alignment, as well as impacts associated with the state and national transportation systems and the Yucca Mountain repository. The FEIS also outlines potential approaches that could be considered by Department of Energy to mitigate environmental impacts.

In 2003 Lumos & Associates Inc., in conjunction with Parsons Brinkeroff, agreed in contract to prepare a Rail Corridor Impact Study to gather and evaluate detailed, on-the ground land use information about the potential impacts of rail corridor construction and operation on specific parcels as well as on the adjacent communities that may be affected by the project. The Rail Corridor Impact Study also identifies potential barriers to implementation and construction such as ground water flows, flood plains, existing and proposed wells, and air quality during construction and in the event of accidental release of radiation.

Several physical and environmental constraints could affect construction of the Carlin Alignment in Eureka County including floodplains and intermittent streams which are abundant throughout the corridor. In addition, alteration of ground water levels near the Cortez Gold Mine has caused ground subsidence, which has resulted in the formation of surface fractures. Existing infrastructure and public improvements in the area include up to ten unpaved roadway crossings, the airstrip at Crescent Valley, a power transmission line site bisecting the valley, and storage of hazardous materials near the Union Pacific Railroad mainline track east of Beowawe.

This report is meant to identify impacts and factors that may affect the area and communities near the rail corridor during the preliminary engineering process. While the physical elements appear to be limiting factors to development of the alignment, extensive land use, social, and economic factors have been identified. Land use activities, local traffic circulation, road crossings, wildlife migration and habitat, grazing patterns, noise, and view shed disturbance are some of the factors identified as impacted by this proposed project.

Document in Adobe PDF format:

Title Page (46KB)

Table of Contents (133KB)

Outline (3555KB)

Impact Study (final draft) (3553KB)

Acknowledgements (41KB)

Appendicees (4634KB)