CARSON CITY, Nev., Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told his state legislature a federal plan to store nuclear waste near Las Vegas will not move forward.
Reid, like the rest of the state's Congressional delegation, has only increased his anti-Yucca Mountain rhetoric since becoming the top U.S. Senator last month.
"After 25 years, folks, it's history," Reid on Tuesday told a joint session of the Nevada Senate and Assembly. "They can keep spending money there. Nothing's going to happen."
Yucca Mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, was declared by Congress and President Bush in 2002 as the only potential geologic repository for storing the highly radioactive waste created by U.S. nuclear plants and military nuclear activity.
But the project has been set back by numerous problems, including U.S. Energy Department mismanagement, scientific controversy and heavy opposition by both politicians and opposition groups.
And funding for the project has been constantly constrained, led by Reid.
The Energy Department says it will still submit in June 2008 an application to store waste at Yucca Mountain.
Reid says Congress and the nuclear industry should refocus its efforts at an alternative to Yucca, the Nevada Appeal reports.
"People realize that if they store the waste on-site, we can move to some reasonable nuclear power," he said.
The federal government officially is supposed to take possession of the waste and is paying millions to nuclear plants that have sued.
While the NRC said it expects more than 30 applications for new nuclear plants in the coming years, the industry says a lack of final policy on handling the waste could impede nuclear energy growth in the country.
There are 103 nuclear reactors operating in the United States, generating an average 2,000 tons of waste a year. Nuclear power makes up 20 percent of U.S. electricity demand.