Nevada Power won't support Yucca Mountain dump

LAS VEGAS - Sierra Pacific Resources says it won't campaign to bring nuclear waste to the Nevada desert when it inherits Portland General Electric's decommissioned nuclear power plant.

One of the PGE assets Sierra will purchase in the $3.1 billion acquisition is the Trojan nuclear plant, northwest of Portland. Sierra is the parent of Nevada Power Co. of Las Vegas.

The plant was closed in 1993 as part of the decommissioning process that began that year. All fuel was removed from the reactor and placed in an on-site storage pool.

Used fuel at the plant is considered high-level waste - the type of material some federal authorities hope to dispose of in a nuclear repository at Yucca Mountain 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

The Yucca Mountain plan is mired in controversy with Nevada's congressional delegation leading the fight against a federal proposal to locate the nuclear waste dump in the sparsely populated desert. Opponents of the plan argue that transport vehicles would come too close to the state's populated areas and that long-range effects of nuclear exposure on the environment are unknown.

''We don't believe any state should be forced to take shipment of something its citizens don't want,'' said Steve Oldham, vice president for strategic development for Sierra Pacific Resources. ''That has been our long-standing position. And, as an owner, we should have an even greater say in the issue.''

Today, the plant site is being turned into a park. The state of Oregon is interested in taking it over, assuming that the nuclear waste is removed.

And residents of Oregon are counting on that.

''The decommissioning has not been a hot issue here,'' said Jason Eisdorfer, an attorney for the Citizens' Utility Board, a consumer watchdog group that has been monitoring Trojan's shutdown.

''I think the reason it hasn't been a high-profile issue is that most Oregonians believe it (the nuclear waste) is leaving at some point,'' Eisdorfer said.


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