Nuclear Waste "Rail Line" Lawsuit
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.
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