DOE Cuts Public Comment Time for Draft Environmental Impact Statement in Half

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed Repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada (DEIS) will be released July 30th of this year, according to the Department of Energy (DOE). The DEIS is precursor to the final EIS. The final Environmental Impact Statement will evaluate the construction, operation, and eventually closure of an underground repository for disposal of up to 70,000 tons of commercial and DOE-owned spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. The EIS will further address various transportation options at the national and state-wide level. Examples include shipping all spent nuclear fuel by truck, or by rail or some combination of both. Several Nevada rail corridors, including one that runs through Eureka County, will also be evaluated along with alternative locations for rail to truck “intermodal” waste transfer facilities.

Mandated by the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (as amended), the EIS is required to support DOE’s site recommendation to the President as well as the President’s recommendation to Congress on the potential suitability of Yucca Mountain. If Congress finds the site suitable, then DOE will seek a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to construct and operate Yucca Mountain as permanent repository.

As part of the process for completing the EIS and obtaining approval to and build the repository, DOE must conduct hearings in the vicinity of Yucca Mountain. Hearings will be held in locations where residents could be affected by shipments and/or burial of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. The hearings are used to collect public comments on the information contained in the DEIS; DOE must respond to the comments in a “comment response” document attached to the final EIS. Public comments are vital to understanding the total impact that a permanent repository would have on the surrounding community and environment.

Because public comments could have significant bearing on the final Yucca Mountain decision, the State of Nevada and affected local governments, including Eureka County, requested DOE to provide 180 days at a minimum to prepare comments on the DEIS. Originally, DOE committed to 180 days in its 1997 Scoping Comment Summary Document as 180 days. According to Pete Goicoechea, chairman of the Eureka County Board of Commissioners, 180 days was “an appropriate and necessary review period for a document as complex as the Yucca Mountain Repository DEIS.” The DEIS is reported to be 1,600 pages in length.

However, citing budget cuts and the necessity to “compress the EIS schedule,” Lake Barret, Director of DOE’s Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, denied the requests for re-extension. The Yucca Mountain Site Characterization Project is already massively behind schedule (Yucca Mountain was originally slated to begin receiving waste in 1998), and DOE is hoping to speed up the process by cutting the comment time in half. On a more positive note, Barret did offer to make “reference documents that support the DEIS” available in public reading rooms and on the Internet and release a DEIS CD-ROM. DOE plans to hold eight public hearings in Nevada during the public comment period which begins as soon as the DEIS is released (see schedule on front).

EIS Hearing Schedule
  • August 31 — Pahrump
  • September 2 — Goldfield
  • September 7 — Caliente
  • September 9 — Las Vegas
  • September 14 — Washington D.C.
  • September 16 — Atlanta, GA
  • September 21 — Reno
  • September 22 — Austin
  • September 23 — Crescent Valley
  • September 28 — Denver, CO
  • September 30 — Boise, ID
  • October 5 — Salt Lake City, UT
  • October 7 — Amargosa Valley
Important Dates
  • The Beowawe Crescent Valley Nuclear Waste Awareness Committee meets the 2nd Thursday of each month at 7:00 pm at the Crescent Valley Town Center . . . July 8th — Steve Frishman from Nevada’s Nuclear Waste Project Office speaks on “Scientific and Technology Concerns”

  • The EIS Hearing in Crescent Valley is scheduled for September 23

  • A meeting called “How to Participate in the EIS Hearing” will also be held in September, exact date yet to be confirmed

Participation Q & A

How can I prepare?
DOE will make materials available that will help you to comment on the Draft EIS. These include a summary of the document, a fact sheet, a CD-ROM, as well as the document itself. Fill out and return the bottom portion of page one to receive these items. In addition, Eureka County will be holding a meeting called “How to Participate in the EIS Hearing” in September which will address how to prepare for and participate in the EIS process.

When will I receive the EIS from DOE?
The EIS is slated to be released July 30th so fill out the bottom portion of page one and return it as soon as possible to ensure prompt delivery of your copy. Or, you can also call DOE’s toll-free information line (1-800-967-3477) and order a copy by phone.

How can I participate?
There are several ways to voice your opinion during the EIS comment period. Citizens can give their comments verbally at one of the hearings (mark your calendar for the Austin hearing on September 22nd or the Crescent Valley hearing on September 23rd). DOE can also be reached by fax machine and regular mail. DOE has also set up a toll-free phone line and an e-mail address to receive your comments and concerns. DOE says all comments will be given equal importance, regardless of how they are received.

  • Phone: 1-800-967-3477
  • Fax: 1-800-967-0739
  • E-mail:
  • Mail: Wendy R. Dixon, EIS Project Manager, Yucca Mountain Site Characterization Office, Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, U.S. Department of Energy, 1180 Town Center Drive, M/S 010, Las Vegas, NV 89134

How can I make my comments stand out?
The key to maximizing the impact of your comments is an understanding of the process. Be familiar with the relevant facts and information and make sure to focus on how the proposed repository would affect you and your community. Relate you comments to the document. Ask yourself, what do I want my comment to accomplish?

EIS Checklist;
Consider the Impacts

  • Mining
  • Wildlife
  • Grazing
  • Roads
  • Emergency Response
  • Terrain
  • Property/Land Use
  • Wild Horses
  • Military Land and Airspace
  • Construction Impacts
  • Railroad
  • Wilderness
  • Human Health and Safety
  • Floodplain
  • Environmental Justice
  • Soils
  • Historical and Cultural
  • Utilities
  • Local Government Impacts
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Land Use Conflicts
  • Resources for More EIS Information:

    Eureka County Public Works — P.O. Box 714, Eureka, NV 89316 (775) 237-5372

    Crescent Valley Public Works — 5045 Tenabo Ave, Crescent Valley 89821 (775) 468-0326

    State of Nevada Nuclear Waste Project Office — Evergreen Center, 1802 N. Carson, Suite 252 Carson City, NV 89701 (775) 687-3744

    Department of Energy Yucca Mountain Site Characterization Office — P.O. Box 30307, North Las Vegas, NV 89036 (702)794-5555

    Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force — 4550 W. Oakey, Suite 111, Las Vegas, NV 89102 (702) 248-1127 or 1-800-227-9809


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