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As the House of Representatives Votes to Turn Yucca Mountain Into a Nuclear Waste Storage Site, a Look at the History, Science, and Politics Behind the Vote

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The House of Representatives voted yesterday to turn Nevada’s Yucca Mountain into a high-level nuclear waste dump. The plan calls for 100,000 shipments of highly radioactive nuclear waste to be transported across the country on trucks, trains, and barges. It would then be dumped at Yucca Mountain, just ninety miles from Las Vegas. Yucca Mountain is an ancient volcano that lies in the heart of Shoshone territory. It has long been considered a sacred site by the Shoshone Native Americans.

The government and the nuclear energy industry have been searching for years for a one-stop nuclear dump to store the nation’s waste. They say Yucca Mountain is safe and provides the best storage solution. But not everyone agrees. A broad coalition of environmental, public interest, and indigenous rights groups has come together to oppose the plan. They say it is neither safe nor secure. They are fighting to get their message across before the decisive senate vote. That vote is expected in June.

Last weekend, the Nuclear Energy Institute treated the key staffers of 22 congress members to a lavish trip to Nevada. NEI is the industry’s well-heeled Washington lobby, and it spared no expense on the two-day junket. Staffers were wined, dined, and entertained before heading for their private tour of Yucca Mountain. That tour came just day’s before yesterday’s House of Representatives vote.


  • Bob Loux, Executive Director, Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects (a division of the Governor’s office).
  • Corbin Harney, Spiritual Leader and Elder of the Western Shoshone Nation. He is the author of “One Air, One Water, One Mother Earth”. Harney is also the founder and executive director of the Shundahai network, a Las Vegas-based network of activists for environmental, nuclear, and Native issues.
  • Lisa Gue, Policy Analyst in the Energy Program of Public Citizen.

Related links:


  • South Carolina (Barnwell)–Gill Scott-Heron, From South Africa to South Carolina (TVT CD).

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