15 April 2010– The Department of Energy put a hold until May 5 on dismantling the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site in Nevada, giving federal judges a chance to review a legal challenge to shutting down the site.
Attorneys from the DOE and the Department of Justice said in documents filed with the D.C. Circuit that the agency agreed to stop laying off employees, terminating contracts or telling contractors to stop work on the project through May 5 in order to give judges time to review a motion from the state of Washington for a preliminary injunction. The hold keeps the DOE under contract with site operator USA Repository Services.
Washington state wants to reverse the shutdown to avoid having the nuclear material stored inside the state. State officials also said shutting down the site violates federal laws.
“We are confident that we have the legal authority to withdraw the application for the Yucca Mountain repository,” DOE spokesperson Stephanie Mueller said in a statement.
Last year, President Obama halted the Yucca Mountain project, recalling a pending application at the site, which had already cost $9 billion. The project was slated to store nuclear waste in tunnels 1,000 feet underground.
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