Nuclear Nevada?

A local group encouraged members of the government and public last week to embrace the idea of making Yucca Mountain a short-term—no more than 120 years—storage facility for spent nuclear fuel rods.

“Our plan is to have Nevada become a leader in the world in the area of storing and reprocessing nuclear assets,” said the group Nevadans 4 Carbon-Free Energy (N4CFE) on its website.

Though the Obama administration has voiced support for nuclear power development, the current budget includes no funding for Yucca Mountain as a long-term storage site, and Rep. Dean Heller and Sen. Harry Reid have both called the project dead. President Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu tried to halt the Yucca project in 2009, but were sued by a handful of states. Chu has said if they lose that lawsuit, the administration may be forced to look at Yucca as a storage site again.

Now, N4CFE says Yucca deserves a second look as an “Energy Park” that would use the infrastructure at Yucca Mountain to create carbon-free energy, jobs for Nevadans and an Alaska-like permanent trust fund that would pay annual dividends to Nevada families. At least that’s the idea posed at the March 18 event at the Ramada Inn.

In a press release for the event, the group stated, “The Japanese earthquake/tsunami only makes this project more valuable and urgent!”

N4CFE said the concept includes a research center tied to the University of Nevada in Reno and Las Vegas, one or more power plants, would “allow for a balanced power portfolio” and would “position Nevada as a Net Energy Exporter to surrounding states.” The group claims the park could generate over $4 billion a year in revenues and create more than 10,000 jobs.