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THE NATION

Water Spigots for Yucca Mountain Will Remain Closed, Judge Orders

June 12, 2002|From Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — A federal judge refused Tuesday to turn on the water at the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository site, saying the U.S. government has enough water to last until Congress makes a decision on the project.

The state, which is trying to block the repository, has shut off water to the facility, and the U.S. asked the judge to intervene.

But U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt chided the government for seeking what federal lawyer Stephen Bartell called an "anticipatory injunction" in case water runs low at the arid site 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Bartell told the judge the site has 114,850 gallons of drinking water stored but added: "We don't feel we should have to wait until the very last drop of water is used to seek relief from the courts."

Hunt said that if the Yucca Mountain project runs low, the U.S. can return to court and he will hear the case immediately.

Hunt noted that the government has water in a 1-million-gallon tank at the site and can draw from tanks storing up to 400,000 gallons at the surrounding Nevada Test Site. The water is sufficient to last "well beyond July," Hunt said, a reference to the July 26 deadline for the Senate to vote to override the state's veto of the proposed repository.

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