In more nuclear news, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham acknowledged yesterday that a proposed nuclear waste depository in Yucca Mountain, Nev., could only handle a portion of the waste that will be generated by commercial power plants and the government in the coming decade. The acknowledgement undercut President Bush’s pro-Yucca argument that radioactive waste should be consolidated into one single, more secure location. As currently planned, Yucca Mountain has a maximum capacity of 77,000 tons — but by the time the dump opens, there will be an estimated 65,000 tons of waste already piled up around the country, and reactors will continue to produce an additional 2,000 tons of waste annually. Abraham suggested that Yucca Mountain’s maximum capacity could be expanded, a move that would have unknown implications for the approval process. The Senate must vote by July 26 on whether to proceed with the depository over the objections of the state of Nevada; the House already sided with the Bush administration.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.