Draft EIS Released
On August 6, the Department of Energy (DOE) released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain. The document evaluates the construction, operation, and eventual closure of an underground repository for disposal of up to 70,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. The DEIS also addresses various transportation options at the national and statewide level including the proposed "Carlin" rail route that could run through Crescent Valley in Eureka County.
An environmental impact statement for the project is mandated by the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (as amended) and the final version will be used to support DOEs site recommendation to the President. The President will in turn use the EIS to support his recommendation to Congress on the potential suitability of Yucca Mountain. If the site is ultimately found suitable, DOE will then seek a license to construct and operate the facility from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
When preparing the final EIS, DOE is required to take into account the concerns of the affected citizens. DOE is holding ten hearings in Nevada where citizens can give their comments, including ones in Crescent Valley and Austin. Comments can be given orally at any of the hearings or written and mailed. DOE can also be reached by fax and e-mail.. The comment deadline is February 9, 2000.
The best way to participate in the EIS process and help determine the future of the proposed repository and transportation routes is to first obtain a copy of the DEIS and become familiar with it. (Call DOE at 800/967-3477 to get a copy, or contact Eureka County at 775/237-5372. ). Make sure to read the summary and the sections relevant to Eureka County, especially the Carlin Route option.
Focus on how the proposals set forth in the document would affect you and your community -- think especially about the people, environment, economy, and way of life of the area you live in. When making comments it is important to relate them to the document. You can make a statement regarding an issue that was not raised in the DEIS that you think should be addressed. You can also discuss changes to the existing information that you think would make the document a more adequate study of the proposed repository and transportation alternatives.
Issues that are more technical in nature are better addressed in written statements that can be mailed, faxed, or e-mailed to DOE. Comments that are made orally at one of the hearings should be fairly simple and easy for a room full of people to understand. Remember, you can give both written and oral comments, each on completely different aspects of the DEIS if you want -- there is no limit to the number of comments you can give. You can also be creative. A poem, an excerpt from a book or document, or a letter from your child can all be effective ways to get your point across as long as they stay on topic. The most important thing is to have a clear idea of what you want your comment to accomplish and choose a format that will best allow your concerns to hit home.
Finally, make sure you attend the "How to Participate in the EIS Hearing" workshop that will be held December 2 at 7:00 p.m. in Crescent Valley. Participants will learn more about what to expect at the hearings, what"s in the EIS, and how to most effectively participate in the EIS process and make your concerns known to DOE.
Possible Impacts of the Proposed Carlin Rail Route: Some Issues to Consider
Mining: Could a rail route interfere with future mineral development? Current mining activities? Cortez Gold Mine, Inc. is planning a pipeline project that would intersect the proposed rail line in two places.
Grazing: Would a rail route bisect grazing allotments? What would be the effect on agriculture?
Wildlife: Could a rail line disturb the habitats of the natural wildlife? The southern corridor of the Carlin route would disrupt 740 acres of desert tortoise habitat, an endangered species. The corridor also crosses the Bates Mountain antelope release area, 3 designated riparian habitats, and Simpson Park habitat management area.
Wild Horses: Could a rail line and potential fencing interfere with the migration routes and grazing patterns of the area"s wild horse population? The proposed corridor crosses six wild horse and burro herd management areas.
History and culture: Would a rail line disrupt archaeological sites, sacred Indian grounds, and other places of historical and cultural value? There are at least 21 archaeological sites along the Carlin rail corridor in Eureka County.
Environmental Justice: Will a rail route in Eureka County affect some communities more than others? Could minorities like the Western Shoshones be the recipients of more adverse impacts than the rest of the population?
Property/Land Use: Who owns the land that the proposed railroad would run through? In addition to private land, the rail line would cross land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management and the Air Force.
Railroad: Would the impacts of a rail line be different if it was used to ship things other than nuclear waste? Who will own and operate the railroad during nuclear waste shipments and after the shipments of radioactive waste stop?
Human health and safety: What are the long and short term effects of a rail accident involving nuclear waste? Who would respond? Who would be liable for the damages?
Floodplain: Would the rail line disrupt the natural flows of water? The corridor crosses one spring, one river, and five riparian areas.
November 18: Nuclear Waste Awareness Committee, Crescent Valley Town Ctr, 7 pm.
Tell It to the DOE
Here’s how to express your opinion during the EIS comment period.
November December January
Written Comment Deadline February 9, 2000 (transmitted or postmarked)
Resources More EIS Information: