Nuclear Waste "Rail Line" Lawsuit

Download Rail Line Lawsuit

Petition for Review: Lawsuit over Yucca Waste Shipment Plan (Caliente Rail Line) PDF, 174KB

AG Press Release: Nevada files Suit over Yucca Waste Shipment Plan (Caliente Rail Line) (PDF, 174KB)
On September 7, 2004, the State Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the Energy Department's plan to construct a rail line in Southern Nevada for nuclear waste shipment. The State says DOE's plan violated the National Environmental Policy Act and ignored important railroad regulation.

In April, DOE officially selected the Caliente Corridor for a 319-mile rail line to the proposed Yucca Mountain repository (read the Record of Decision). DOE is now in the process of putting together an Environmental Impact Statement on the rail line.

But the State of Nevada says the process was done out of order and violated the National Environmental Policy Act. The Act requires an environmental analysis of federal projects before they are finalized.

"The whole point of environmental review is to study the impacts before you make the decision, not after," said State Attorney General Brian Sandoval.

The lawsuit also challenges the Energy Department's right to play the role of lead agency in the project. Sandoval pointed out that DOE moved ahead with the largest railroad construction project in 80 years without consulting the Surface Transportation Board, the federal agency that oversees rail projects.

"Given DOE's track record at building anything, the Board is a far better agency than DOE to run a project of this magnitude. It is also far less biased," he stated in a press release.

Sandoval also said that DOE did not contact land owners in advance to let them know their land would be used in the construction project, even though the Department asked the Bureau of Land Management for more than 300,000 acres to study.

Finally, the lawsuit criticizes DOE's choice of mode of transport for shipping waste. The Department intends to use light-weight truck casks on rail cars, an option which has not been analyzed for safety. DOE had previously analyzed larger, heavier rail casks which are less vulnerable to accidents and sabotage.

The suit was filed in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the same court which threw out the 10,000 year Yucca radiation safety standard.

For the latest on this issue, please visit the what's new page.

Back to Litigation

Site  Index
What's New  |   Licensing Process  |   Newsletter  |   Transportation  |   Litigation
Documents  |   Regulation  |   Photos  |   Maps  |   EIS Data  |   Timeline
Calendar  |   FAQ   |   Internet Links  |   Archives  |   Contact
Site Map  |   Home Page
Search Our Site

Last Updated 09/2004