(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – Former U.S. Sen. and Nevada governor Richard Bryan today described Rep. Mark Amodei’s recent comments about Yucca Mountain not being dead as a site to dispose of the nation’s nuclear waste was as “unfortunate.”
“The great majority of Nevadans, dating back more than 30 years ago when I was governor, have taken a position that Yucca Mountain threatens the health and safety of Nevadans,” Bryan said in an interview with Sam Shad on the Nevada NewsMakers television program. “The issue was politicized in terms of its site location and there are a number of scientific issues that should give every Nevadan cause for concern.”
Bryan was responding to a statement from Amodei, R-Nev., that says in part: “While some of my colleagues in the delegation have successfully managed to slow the project through the congressional appropriations process, I do not believe it is a ‘dead’ issue and think it is more likely the repository will eventually come to fruition through a sound scientific process over time.”
Amodei’s statement also says in part: “Let me be clear, I do not believe Yucca Mountain should become a simple dumping site for the nation’s nuclear waste. I believe the Administration and Department of Energy (DOE) should keep funding for the project, while Congress works with the DOE to make the location a bastion of nuclear research and reprocessing.”
Amodei was elected to the 2nd Congressional District seat in a special election in September 2011.
Bryan said the Obama Administration has indicated that it will not move forward with Yucca Mountain, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has successfully worked to de-fund the project, and a special bipartisan commission is now calling for a new, “consent oriented” approach to find a suitable location for the disposal of the nation’s high-level nuclear waste.
As a result Yucca Mountain will not move forward as a repository, he said.
“And I think it is unfortunate that Nevadans, both Democrat and Republican alike, would break ranks at this key moment when in my opinion, Sam, we are literally on the threshold of a victory that the great majority of Nevadans have sought for a third of a century,” Bryan said.
Amodei said he does not believe Yucca Mountain is dead because it comes up as a topic of conversation in the House all the time.
“While I understand it’s great politics for some of my predecessors to say it’s dead, and all that other sort of stuff, and more power to them, you can’t sit here and listen to those guys talk on the floor every week and walk back and tell Nevadans that you think it’s dead too, OK?” he said.
Googling nuclear waste or Yucca Mountain in the congressional record provides all the proof anyone needs the project remains alive, he said.
Amodei also cited the final report of the Blue Ribbon Commission On America’s Nuclear Future, which found that the Obama decision to halt work on Yucca Mountain as evidence of a nuclear waste management policy that has been “troubled for decades and has now reached an impasse.” Impasse does not mean dead and the report says the impasse cannot continue, he said.
“While nobody wants a nuclear landfill in Nevada, we probably ought to at least talk about it,” Amodei said. “Well if that is breaking ranks, then yes I did.”
Bryan also dismissed any suggestion that funding would flow to Nevada if it accepted the Yucca Mountain project.
“That absolutely is utterly false,” he said. “There has never been any money promised us in terms of real money out there. The industry itself has never offered anything and nor has the federal government. And I guess I would say that even if some money were offered, in my view this is a question of health and safety.
“And when you press those folks who make those assertions, tell us where,” Bryan said. “Show us. Who is offering the money; when, and where, and how much. And Sam, I would respectfully suggest that these misguided Nevadans can’t come up with an answer.”
Bryan, a Democrat who was elected governor in 1982 and 1986 and then to the U.S. Senate in 1988 where he served two terms, is now a member of the Lionel Sawyer & Collins law firm. Bryan fought against the Yucca Mountain project during his time in public office and continues to speak out against it.