A 7.1 earthquake that rocked Nevada this month shook lawmakers and Gov. Steve Sisolak into action. Sisolak is joining all six members of Nevada’s congressional delegation in asking the Department of Energy for a full reexamination of the seismic hazards at the Yucca Mountain site.
In the letter addressed to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Sisolak and the delegation emphasize the site’s proximity to a major fault line in Eastern California. Yucca Mountain is about 100 northeast of Ridgecrest, California where magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 earthquakes struck over the Fourth of July weekend.
“These significant recent earthquakes so near to Yucca Mountain show one of the many geologic problems with the site as a nuclear waste repository and only strengthen my resolve to fight any continued federal effort to use Nevada as the nation’s nuclear dumping ground,” Sisolak said in a statement. “I’m proud to join our bipartisan group of federal representatives in once again sending the loud and clear message that Yucca has never been, and will never be, good for Nevada.”
In a joint letter to the governor, Nevada State Geologist James Faulds and Nevada State Seismologist Graham Kent, said “Yucca Mountain lies in a very dynamic, seismically active region, as evidenced by the Ridgecrest earthquakes as well as other historical temblors.”
Nevada is the third most seismically active state in the nation, according to the scientist’s letter. The recent California earthquakes happened in a system of faults known as the eastern California shear zone in the south and Walker Lane in the north, which extends through much of the region.
Officials reported a man performing work under his vehicle in Nye County may have died as a result of one of the earthquakes.
Nye County includes Yucca Mountain.
Faulds and Kent called for more “modern and thorough research and analysis to fully understand both the seismic and volcanic hazards of the Yucca Mountain area” before determining whether the Yucca Mountain site is suitable for nuclear waste storage.
In his letter to the DOE, Sisolak warned that if licensing continues without a full reevaluation as requested, Nevada would be forced to challenge the department’s license application based on all available evidence.
Nevada previously challenged DOE’s Yucca Mountain seismic hazards assessment during the NRC licensing proceeding in 2008. Nevada has argued that DOE improperly minimized seismic hazards in its license application to the NRC.