Lincoln commissioners send letter on defense waste repository

Lincoln County Oversight Program coordinator Connie Simkins spoke to the board of county commissioners Feb. 21 in regards to drafting a comment letter to be sent to the U.S. Department of Energy regarding the plan for a defense waste repository.

She said the plan was a recommendation asked for by a commission former President Obama had set up and charged with “finding a way to handing the nation’s nuclear power plant waste and spent nuclear fuels.”

Simkins said she prepared a draft letter for the commissioners to review. In addition, she asked county advisor Mike Baughman to review the letter and make any needed wording and/or phrasing changes.

She said the county’s comment letter deals basically with transportation issues and concerns, the class of waste involved, or what way they choose to move it. “Some of it will very likely move through Lincoln County,” Simkins said, “either by railway or highway.”

She added, “There are a lot of uncertainties in this plan.” Cost estimates was one example given. “They are separate,” she said, “and don’t include where the defense waste repository will be built, or what geology will be used for the building, and that increases the uncertainty.” As it has for a long time, Yucca Mountain remains a possibility.

Simkins stated she fully expected to see quite a few “legal challenges and Congressional actions on what may or may not happen on this.”

Lincoln County’s main concern about the plan is transportation, and Simkins said “it is important because of our commitment to our citizens for health and safety issues and staying involved.”

Lincoln County has been designated by Congress as an effective unit of local government and therefore the comment letter will be given some measure of consideration.

Commission chair Paul Donohue said he signed the finalized form of the letter on behalf of the board and mailed it Feb. 27.

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