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US nuclear waste costs spiral upwards

by David Masters
August 19, 2008

The cost of a dumping site for all of America’s nuclear waste is soaring out of control, with estimates now close to $100 billion.

The US Department of Environment estimates that the research, construction and operation of the Yucca Mountain facility in the Nevada desert will cost $96.2 billion.

This is 67% higher than 2001 government estimates of $57.5 billion.

Washington officials say the rising costs are largely due to a ‘substantial increase’ in the amount of waste that will be stored at Yucca Mountain, and $16 billion in inflation.

Work on the facility in Yucca Mountain began in 1983. Thus far, the US goverment has invested $13.5 billion in the project, which is not expected to open until at least 2020.

The US government says that the increased costs will not be passed on to nuclear companies, but will be funded from the taxpayer’s purse.

The site, 90 miles from Las Vegas, will hold thousands of tonnes of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons.

The US currently has 121 temporary nuclear storage locations in 39 different states.

Environmental campaign group Greenpeace commented that the cost of the storage plant highlights the true cost of nuclear, and that governments across the world must invest in ‘real solutions’ to climate change and energy problems.

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