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Wash. sues to stop feds from abandoning Yucca site

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Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repositoryWashington state filed suit Tuesday to stop the federal government from permanently abandoning the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, marking the latest clash in a long-standing dispute over where the nation's nastiest radioactive waste should be stored.

Waste and spent nuclear fuel from south-central Washington's Tri-Cities, site of the highly contaminated Hanford nuclear reservation and the Northwest's only commercial nuclear plant, had long been intended to go to Yucca Mountain.

The U.S. Department of Energy has said the proposed desert mountain repository 90 miles from Las Vegas is no longer considered an option for radioactive waste storage. It has a motion pending to withdraw its license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission "with prejudice," which would permanently remove it from consideration as the nation's radioactive waste repository.

Abandoning Yucca Mountain without an identified alternative "significantly sets back cleanup at Hanford and puts our people and our environment at risk," Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna said in a statement. Nevada's governor immediately fired back after receiving word of the lawsuit.

"Since the state of Washington is so enthusiastic about underground storage of spent nuclear fuel, perhaps their governor and their citizens will volunteer to have the nation's nuclear waste dump located within their borders," said Gov. Jim Gibbons, a Republican.


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