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Earthquake Danger Detected At Planned Nuclear Waste Site

By Associated Press
Sep 25, 2007 - 10:56:47 AM

 

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LAS VEGAS - New rock samples show preliminary evidence of an earthquake fault beneath where Yucca Mountain project planners want to handle highly radioactive waste before burial at the planned repository.

A May 21 letter and U.S. Geological Survey maps show a fault beneath where officials hope to build concrete pads to store spent radioactive fuel canisters for cooling before they are entombed in tunnels inside the mountain, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Monday. The paper said it obtained the documents last week.

“Preliminary data from the recent drilling phase indicate the location of the Bow Ridge fault in northern Midway Valley may be farther east than projected from previous work in the area,” Kenneth Skipper, chief of the USGS Yucca Mountain project branch, said in the letter to Andrew Orrell, senior program manager for the Energy Department lead laboratory.

Bob Loux, head of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects and the state’s chief anti-Yucca administrator, told the Review-Journal the finding meant that project planners might have to revamp plans or show regulators that the so-called aging pad could be fortified to withstand an earthquake.

“It certainly looks like DOE has encountered a surprise out there, and it certainly speaks to the fact they haven’t done the technical work they should have done years ago,” Loux said.

An Energy Department spokesman for the Yucca Mountain project did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment.

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