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American Shipper

Hearing to focus on rail line for transport of nuclear waste

Hearing to focus on rail line for transport of nuclear waste

   The U.S. House Railroads Subcommittee will hold an oversight hearing in Las Vegas Friday to consider the development of a rail line to transport nuclear waste to the proposed Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada.

   The Energy Department has determined that the best way to transport nuclear waste from storage facilities around the country to the Yucca Mountain would be by railroad.

   There is no rail line to the Yucca Mountain site, and the nearest major rail connection is about 100 miles away. Due to geography, about 350 miles of rail line would need to be constructed to reach the site from the main rail system.

   The Energy Department estimates the cost to build the new rail line to be $1 billion. The land for the rail corridor is owned mostly by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Energy Department, with less than 5 percent in private hands.

   The House Railroads Subcommittee is concerned about jurisdiction over the construction and operations of the rail line. There are also concerns about the safety of rail transport of nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain.

   Senior government officials are expected to testify at the hearing. They include Roger Noble, Surface Transportation Board chairman; Allan Rutter, head of the Federal Railroad Administration; and Gary Lanthrum, director of the Energy Department’s National Transportation Office.

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