WaPo Asks Trump To Clean Up Obama’s Nuclear Waste Mess

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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The Washington Post editorial board is calling on President Donald Trump and Congress to revive the long-delayed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facility.

WaPo blamed Obama administration policies and obstruction by former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada for derailing plans to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Without a permanent storage facility, nuclear power plants have limited options to store spent fuel, leaving the federal government with $50 billion in legal liabilities.

“For years, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) successfully blocked funding for its development, with the help of President Barack Obama, who made an exception for swing-state Nevada from his pledge to run a science-based administration,” the editorial board wrote Saturday. “With Mr. Reid and Mr. Obama both retired, the Trump administration and GOP leaders are trying to revive the project.”

WaPo argues the political obstacles blocking Yucca are weakening, pointing to Trump’s budget proposal, which revived plans to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain.

Trump’s budget called for “$120 million to restart licensing activities for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste, repository and initiate a robust interim storage program.” The White House argued the “investments would accelerate progress on fulfilling the Federal Government’s obligations to address nuclear waste, enhance national security, and reduce future taxpayer burden.”

The WaPo editorial is part of a growing media trend. The Chicago Tribune editorial board implored Trump in April to clean up the nuclear waste storage debacle left by his predecessor.

WaPo noted the remaining opposition to the waste repository is largely based around state level officials not wanting such a project in their back-yards, and is not based on technical or environmental concerns.

“It’s past time the opposition was sidelined for good,” the editorial board wrote. “The nation’s nuclear regulators have found that technical hurdles can be overcome; the biggest barriers to developing the site are political. Congress should re-fund Yucca Mountain and finally end this gratuitous fight.”

The Department of Energy submitted its proposal to build Yucca Mountain in June of 2008, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) determined in 2014 that Yucca met safety standards. The NRC released a report last May that claimed the Yucca Mountain site would not adversely impact the environment over a one million year period.

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