US Gov't Set To Approve Use of Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Facility

Decision likely to spur protests and vote in Congress.

Published: 10-Jan-2002

The decision by Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, expected to be announced as early as Thursday, will likely outrage environmental groups and key Nevada politicians who have vigorously fought the opening of the facility for years.

The federal government has for decades been looking for a suitable spot to dispose of some 77,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel, and settled on Yucca Mountain in the 1980s. The facility was completed but never opened because of local opposition.

A total of $7 billion has been spent so far on studying the project, which is expected to cost $58 billion more to build if it opens completely on schedule in 2010. The waste would be stored in tunnels carved out 1,000 feet below the surface and would remain radioactive for more than 10,000 years.

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