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Yucca Mountain Shutdown Halts After Washington State Lawsuit

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The legal battle over the U.S. Energy Dept.’s nuclear-waste storage program took a turn on April 14, when the agency halted closure of Nevada’s Yucca Mountain repository following a legal challenge by Washington state. Its suit challenges the order’s legality and includes a request to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to withdraw the facility’s application. The state says DOE lacks authority to terminate Yucca Mountain, claiming the move hikes risks at federal nuclear-waste sites, including Hanford in eastern Washington. An appeals court in Washington, D.C., ordered DOE to halt layoffs of repository staff and work by contractors until after May 5. Yucca Mountain supporters are fighting an Obama administration decision to kill the project, set to store 70,000 metric tons of utility spent nuclear fuel and defense waste.

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