“Colluding” Community: & the heavy hand of the State

i Apr 17th 2 Comments by

A meeting between local community leaders and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Washington DC this week has angered State-level officials in Nevada.

The row yet again brings to the surface the tensions between the local community in Nye County, which wants to explore how the proposed Yucca Mountain geological disposal facility might benefit their community, and State-level politicians who want no discussions of any kind about the facility.

GDFWatch has previously reported on Nye County’s frustrations, and explored how such disagreements between different tiers of government are central to the UK’s current public consultations on how communities should be involved in deciding whether to host a GDF.

Nevada State officials have challenged the legality of the meeting and accused Nye County community leaders of ‘going behind the State’s back’.  Dan Schinhofen of Nye County said the state’s objection were another waste of taxpayers’ money.

It is hard to ignore the irony of Nevada State’s support for a “community consent-based” approach, while denying the clearly expressed consent of the community most affected by the Yucca Mountain project!



  1. Bruce Yardley
    19th March 2018 at 3:29 pm

    Nevada offers a complex twist to the theory of community consent: many scientists would argue that Yucca Mountain does not offer Geological Disposal as normally defined, because the geology does not provide adequate additional safety – long-term engineered barriers are also needed (the titanium “drip-shield”). As a result, communities further away from the site may be entitled to more of a say than would be the case where geological barriers can be relied provide very long-term confinement.

    • rpayne
      19th March 2018 at 5:02 pm

      Thanks Bruce. I understand there’s quite a bit of scientific discussion around what we already know about Yucca. It is those geological uncertainties laced with the societal issues which make Yucca Mountain such an intriguing case. The way in which the site was long-ago selected, and its geology, leave some resentments and many open questions — like the ones you raise. It may very well be that the geology is eventually deemed unsuitable, but does that mean we shouldn’t even try finding out? Nevadan state officials want to shut down debate and research before it even gets started. But those living closest to the site are interested in finding out a) whether it is even possible geologically, and b) what implications good and bad there might be for their community if the geology is manageable. They question why an “urban elite” far away should be able to shut down their local community’s options. The current funding proposal would simply allow research to better understand the geological issues, not actually start building anything. Local people just want more info, because they’re very upfront “if it can’t be done safely, we don’t want it!” All this suggests the US should keep exploring other options, because in geological, safety and societal terms Yucca Mountain is far from being a slamdunk solution.


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