Published April 22, 2004
LAS VEGAS – Many fear an anti-nuclear campaign now underway in Nevada may kill a project that survived five presidents and cost more than $8 billion.
About 50 years ago, American scientists recognized they had to do something about the growing problem of nuclear waste. They decided the best place wasn't under the ocean or in ice caps or on rockets sent into space, but underground. And in 1987, the federal government chose Yucca Mountain (search), 90 miles outside of Las Vegas.
Yucca Mountain was chosen because it is remote, secure and geologically solid, stable and nearly impervious to water.
"Of the places I am familiar with, Yucca Mountain is the best. I haven't seen any qualities of this mountain that would be unfavorable to the safe disposal of nuclear waste here," said David Merritt, a Yucca Mountain geologist.
But critics say they aren't convinced, and are doing what they can to stop the project from moving forward.
"We don't know what kind of poison we are putting into the environment," said Peggy Maze Johnson of Citizen Alert (search).
In December, the Energy Department will ask the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (search) for a license to finish construction — a prerequisite before the commission will even consider industry and administration plans to build new nuclear power plants.
Click here for a report by Fox News' William La Jeunesse.