Suit seeks revival of Yucca

Washington’s state government is suing the Obama administration to reverse the president’s policy of abandoning the proposed high level nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain.

Named as defendants in the suit are the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna said the shutdown of the Yucca project will cripple cleanup efforts at Hanford, a federal reservation where research during the Manhattan project and nuclear power facilities have created one of the world’s most hazardous sites, surrounded by the “tri-city” communities of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland.

“The people of the tri-cities did their part to help our country fight World War II and the Cold War—and the federal government should honor that sacrifice,” McKenna said in a news release. “The Department of Energy’s move to permanently remove Yucca Mountain as a potential nuclear waste repository—with no identified alternative—significantly sets back cleanup at Hanford and puts our people and our environment at risk.”

Paradoxically, Nevada officials have often used a similar pitch for killing the Yucca program, saying the people of Nevada have already “done their share” for nuclear research by hosting cold war nuclear testing from 1951 to 1992.

On the same day that McKenna filed his suit, the Seattle Times carried an essay by Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto that argued Yucca Mountain is not a safe place for the Hanford waste or power plant wastes.

McKenna, a Republican, is one of the state attorneys general suing to stop the Democratic health care plan. In a reversal of roles from the Nevada situation, Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire is trying to use an attorney of her own to block McKenna’s health care suit.