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New Monument Not Meant To Derail Yucca Mountain, Reid Says

Democratic Senator Harry Reid says the designation of a sprawling national monument in rural Nevada last week was not part of an effort to fend off a nuclear waste dump. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports.

In an interview Monday with KNPR in Las Vegas, the outgoing senator was asked whether the designation of the Basin and Range National Monument was meant to prevent the construction of a railroad that would ship nuclear waste to the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

Reid said that never entered into his calculation. He added that he doesn't believe the dump will ever be set up and that the railroad would be too expensive to build even if the dump did materialize.

"That was never going to be built anyway," he told KNPR. "That's ridiculous. That would cost billions of dollars--billions."

Yucca Mountain has been studied for decades as a possible nuclear waste site. Under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, the Department of Energy was supposed to build a repository by 1998. Because that still hasn't happened, nuclear energy facilities across the country have had to temporarily store the hazardous material themselves, and many have been awarded costly court-ordered damage settlements that are ultimately paid by taxpayers.

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.
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