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THE NATION

Secret Meetings About Waste Site Are Alleged

Nevada: State attorney general says public is being excluded from Yucca Mountain plans.

September 21, 2002|From Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — Nevada Atty. Gen. Frankie Sue Del Papa is accusing two federal agencies of holding secret meetings about building the nation's nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

Del Papa complained in letters to U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Richard A. Meserve, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, of what she called "a growing and apparently unlawful trend" to exclude the public from decisions about the Yucca Mountain project.

"The state of Nevada and the public are entitled to notice and the opportunity to participate at every level of decisions made about the Yucca project," Del Papa said Friday.

She stopped short of accusing the department and the NRC of breaking the law or violating federal rules. The Energy Department would operate the high-level nuclear waste repository, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The NRC would license it.

But Del Papa pointed to comments by Energy Department officials at a Sept. 10 meeting in Las Vegas about designs having been presented to the NRC and about other meetings planned between Energy and NRC officials.

Margaret Chu, director of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, also submitted a document to board members stating that the Energy Department had made commitments to the NRC about five elements of the Yucca Mountain plan, Del Papa said.

"Why was Nevada not given notice of such meetings or interactions?" she asked.

An Energy Department spokesman said his agency has received Del Papa's letter and was reviewing it, but he declined to discuss specifics.

"The DOE has fully complied with the relevant laws, rules and regulations and we will continue to do so," spokesman Joe Davis said.

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