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Know the West

Where will the waste wind up?

  In December, the burial of high-level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada was given a go-ahead by the release of a Department of Energy "viability assessment." Project opponents, including the state of Nevada, say health and safety problems still aren't addressed. "The assessment is a tool designed and dreamed up by the nuclear industry and the Department of Energy to provide confidence to Congress and the president to designate Yucca as a sound storage site," says Bob Loux, director of Nevada's Agency for Nuclear Projects, based in Las Vegas. He says the state's concerns center around the geological and hydrological stability of the area and the site's capability to keep radiation levels in check over thousands of years. Research on Yucca Mountain began 15 years ago and has cost taxpayers $6 billion; the Department of Energy hopes to begin storage in 2010. The complete Yucca Mountain assessment can be found at www.ymp.gov/va.htm or call the Department of Energy at 800/225-6972.

* Juniper Davis