Title: Air Force Anti-Nuke Dump, Too
Subtitle: Concern focuses on routes going through off-limits areas
Publication: Las Vegas Sun
Date: May 17, 1996
Page: 1A
Author: Mary Manning

The Air Force says the proposal to ship high-level nuclear waste to 
Southern Nevada poses a national security threat to pilot training.

Air Force Secretary Sheila Widnall has told the House Resources 
Committee that any route across lands used for training would "severely 
affect national security by reducing Air Force and joint training."

The Nellis Range extends over Southern and central Nevada where live 
fire and instrumental threats test U.S. and allied pilots training in  
B-1s, B-2s, F-15s, F-16s, F-117s and F-22s. Top-secret testing also is 
undertaken, Widnall said.

Widnall did not disclose the classified programs referred to in her 
letter to the committee.

"In regard to classified programs, there would be significant impacts 
and in accordance with your request we have provided that information 
through the House National Security Committee," she said.

Instead of using the proposed Chalk Mountain heavy-haul route from 
Rachel, through the Nellis Range to Area 25 at the Nevada Test Site, 
Widnall asked that the bill be amended to keep six to 13 shipments per 
week for 30 years on existing roads and interstate highways.

Bob Loux, director of the Nevada Nuclear Waste Project Office, said he 
has sought a position from the Air Force this month on a Senate bill 
that designates that very route.

"Any transportation is basically incompatible with the bombing range and 
those flights in training," Loux said. The state is concerned about 
access to top secret areas needed by state staff to evaluate safety and 
risks on the nuclear waste routes.

"The Air Force concerns are above and beyond the state's opposition to 
storing or dumping the waste in Nevada," Loux said.

Maj. Gen. Marvin Esmond, commander of Nellis Air Force Base, said anyone 
entering top secret areas requires clearances and a "need to know" for 
access.

Although Senate Majority leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., had promised Rep. John 
Ensign, R-Nev., not to bring the temporary storage bill to the floor 
this year, with Dole's resignation from the Senate, the future of 
temporary nuclear waste storage remains in limbo.

Air Force concerns about nuclear waste storage in Nevada are not new.

In 1983, the Air Force objected to a permanent high-level nuclear waste 
dump at Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, because it 
could create a disaster if a fighter jet crashed into the site while 
radioactive canisters were being unloaded from trucks or rail cars.

At the time, the U.S. Department of Energy, in charge of studying Yucca 
Mountain and other possible sites in Washington state and Texas, 
considered such a jet crash the worst kind of accident.

###