Settlement Increases Pressure to Open Yucca; Kerry Opposes Facility

Pressure is rising around the issue of what to do with nuclear waste in the U.S. In the 1980s, the feds signed agreements with several power companies, promising to take nuclear waste off their hands starting in 1998. The plan was to put it all in the Yucca Mountain facility, but as Grist readers know, Yucca hasn’t opened its doors. Yesterday, the federal government agreed to pay some $300 million to the Exelon Corp. to settle a lawsuit over the delayed waste removal. If the settlement sets a precedent, the Energy Department could be on the line for billions of dollars to more than 60 energy companies. Naturally, the department favors getting Yucca online quickly, despite criticisms that the science behind the design is weak and a recent court ruling that the safety standards have not been set high enough. Meanwhile, John Kerry, on a campaign swing through Nevada — hold on, is Nevada a swing state? — pledged that “with John Kerry as president, there is going to be no nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain — period.”