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Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Proposed High-Level Radioactive Waste Dump Targeted at Native American Lands


The U.S. nuclear establishment in industry and government has, since 1987, focused on geologically unsuitable Western Shoshone Indian land in Nevada for opening the world’s first permanent burial dump for highly radioactive nuclear wastes. Yucca’s rock, fractured by earthquake activity – not to mention nuclear weapons blasts at the nearby Nevada Test Site – would allow radioactivity to massively leak out into the underground drinking water supply over time. Only by undermining public health and safety protections and weakening scientific guidelines and environmental regulations again and again has the nuclear establishment managed to keep the proposed Yucca dump from being disqualified from any further consideration.

The Yucca dump’s opening would set in motion unprecedented numbers of high-level radioactive waste shipments on roads, rails, and waterways through 45 states and the District of Columbia, including hundreds and thousands of cities, towns and communities – probably yours! (See how close targeted Mobile Chernobyl routes are to your home, school, work place, place of worship, etc.
Go to type in your address and find out!)

The Bush Administration’s Department of Energy (DOE) recommended Yucca as suitable for the dump in early 2002. The very next day, despite nearly 300 unfinished key scientific studies and 15,000 public comments in opposition, George W. Bush himself rubberstamped the decision. The State of Nevada officially vetoed the “site recommendation” that spring, but both Houses of Congress overrode the veto. George W. Bush signed off on the override on July 23, 2002, giving DOE the green light to apply to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a construction and operating license for the dump.

In July 2004, NIRS and a coalition of environmental and public interest groups, along with the State of Nevada, won a tremendous victory at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The court threw out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s woefully inadequate Yucca radiation release regulations, ruling that public health protections extending out 10,000 years post-burial are insufficient, and ordering that regulations must extend hundreds of thousands of years into the future, out to the projected peak radiation dose to the public downstream. This could mark the beginning of the end for the Yucca dump proposal, as the site cannot meet such standards. But the nuclear establishment is not giving up on its coveted scheme to turn Yucca Mountain into a nuclear sacrifice zone.

If it weren’t for NIRS and its allies at the grassroots across the country, high-level radioactive waste could already be on its way to the Yucca Mountain earthquake zone in Nevada.  Yucca dump opponents are now gearing up to defend against attempts by the nuclear establishment to overturn the court decision in Congress. Please join this effort to drive the final nails in the coffin of the dangerous Yucca dump proposal.

Over 50 National and 700 Regional/State/Local Grassroots Environmental Groups Publicly Opposed to the Yucca Mountain High-Level Radioactive Waste Dump.

For more information on Yucca Mountain and nuclear waste transportation, check out NIRS factsheets. Also check our Radioactive Roads and Rails section.


November 20, 2015. NIRS comments on Yucca Mountain Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS).

November 20, 2015. Comments of Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) on Yucca Mountain SEIS.

September 28, 2015. Oral comments of Amargosa Conservancy at public hearing on Yucca Mountain Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

April 27, 2015. Compare and contrast! Science vs Science Fiction at Yucca Mountain.

March 31, 2015. PowerPoint presentation by Bob Halstead of Nevada's Agency for Nuclear Projects on the potential impacts of large-scale radioactive waste transport to Yucca Mountain on Native American lands.

February 11, 2015. Talking points on Yucca Mountain.

February 11, 2015. A brief history of the Yucca Mountain project. NIRS factsheet.

January 12, 2015. Presentation from Steve Frishman of Nevada's Agency for Nuclear Projects: The Role of Geology at the Proposed Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository.


December 4, 2014: New NIRS factsheet: Why Yucca Mountain Would Fail as a Nuclear Waste Repository