Water rights complaints land in NNSS influence assessment

Nye County commissioners complained about the protests to its application for water on the Nevada National Security Internet site and recommended the U.S. Division of Energy think about road improvements for shipping radioactive waste on county roads, even a Pahrump bypass, in comments reported on an NNSS environmental influence statement.

The U.S. Division of Power National Nuclear Safety Administration released a final web site-wide EIS last month on what was formerly recognized as the Nevada Test Site. The EIS examined foreseeable missions, applications and projects over a ten-year period. The NNSS provides assistance for the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile.

The letter authorized by commissioners last week, states cumulative, indirect impacts to Nye County from the federal government began extended just before preparation of the EIS.

“Those impacts are the outcome of the federal government taking handle of and limiting access to in depth water resources in Nye County. These impacts accrue from the withdrawal of lands for use by Department of Defense and NNSA and their predecessor agencies that started several decades ago,” the letter reads.

It adds, “The limitations on access to groundwater sources beneath the NNSS and adjacent lands have manifested into a lot more considerable impacts in current years simply because the basins on the withdrawn lands are among the only areas in southern Nye County that are not over-allocated by the Nevada State Engineer’s workplace.”

Nye County previously applied for water rights on the NNSS and have been denied. The DOE protested the applications on the grounds Nye County didn’t have access to the water rights.

“NNSA’s refusal to allow access to this resource is not justified beneath Nevada water law nor is it supported by NNSA’s own evaluation,” the letter states. “Universal opposition to all Nye County water rights applications and denial of access to the water severely limits growth opportunities in southern Nye County. Regardless of DOE’s rationale, no mitigation of the impacts to Nye County for the loss of access to essential water sources has been provided by the federal government. This lack of suitable mitigation is not in the spirit of cooperation that we would like to have with NNSA.”

In 2011, the Nevada Legislature passed Assembly Joint Resolution No. four, introduced by former Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, which requested the federal government enter into negotiations with the state and Nye County over contamination of the NNSS. The county quoted from their former hydrologist the late Tom Buqo, who said the 921 underground tests polluted an estimated 1.six trillion gallons of water.

The county added it had small selection other than to accept the burden of radioactive waste transported along Highway 160 by way of Pahrump. The DOE could mitigate these impacts by funding road improvements and a style study of a Pahrump bypass, the county states.

The DOE has chosen to continue transporting radioactive waste through Pahrump, avoiding Las Vegas, though the general risk is slightly higher, officials say. The EIS continues the prohibition on transporting nuclear waste via Las Vegas region web sites like the Spaghetti Bowl at the junction of Interstate 15 and Highway 95 and near Hoover Dam.

Nye County does express an appreciation for the NNSA’s willingness to contemplate county proposals to conduct groundwater research on and close to the NNSS.

The EIS updates a 1996 statement governing the NNSS, the Tonopah Test Range and two locations in Las Vegas.

The final EIS identified a “hybrid” option containing elements of the three choices studied, based on the needs of each mission: the status quo, expanded operations and lowered operations.

Nonproliferation and counterterrorism programs, such as weapons of mass destruction emergency responder instruction, would remain the same, except the NNSA will add the capability to dispose of radiological dispersion devices, with some added lab and test bed facilities.

The waste management system would use the expanded operations option, except for hazardous waste, explosive ordnance and hydrocarbon waste management, which would remain the exact same. Environmental restoration activities could proceed at a faster pace and/or meet stricter cleanup requirements.

A five megawatt photovoltaic solar power facility and geothermal demonstration project could be constructed in Region 25. Choices on highway routing will not be addressed in the EIS.

The Stockpile Stewardship and Management System would remain the very same, but with an elevated frequency of conventional explosives experiments, up to 100 per year, or 16 making use of up to 120,000 pounds of TNT equivalent charges. The Massive Explosives Experimental Facility BEEF would be expanded to add a second firing table and higher power X-ray capability. Three regions would be established to conduct up to 20 explosives experiments with depleted uranium.

Shock physics experiments would be expanded, to up to 36 per year and up to 24 experiments per year utilizing the Huge Bore Powder Gun. The NNSA would conduct up to 600 plasma physics and fusion experiments.

Specific safeguards and safety functions at the Tonopah Test Variety would be transferred to the U.S. Air Force. The Atlas facility utilised for pulsed energy experiments would be decommissioned. Special nuclear material, including nuclear weapons pits, would be transported to and from locations in the DOE complicated for experiments.

National safety initiatives, like sensor development and treaty verification technology would enhance with new lab space and other facilities and training of inspectors. A nonproliferation test bed would be constructed to simulate chemical and radiological processes an adversary could conduct clandestinely.

The preferred alternative calls for conducting up to 20 controlled chemical and biological simulant release experiments per year. The NNSA would conduct up to three underground and 12 open-air radioactive tracer experiments per year.

The NNSA would dispose up to 48 million cubic feet of low-level radioactive waste and 4 million cubic feet of mixed low-level radioactive waste. A larger volume, 19,000 cubic feet of transuranic waste — the contaminated gloves and gear — would be generated by enhanced NNSS activities. The Region 11 Explosives Ordnance Disposal Unit would treat up to 41,000 pounds of explosives over the subsequent 10 years.

There would be an improved use of a variety of aerial platforms like planes, drones and helicopters for study and training. The NNSA plans to develop monitoring wells quicker. A new 85,000-square-foot multi-story safety developing will be constructed in Region 23. Mercury will be reconfigured. The NNSA hopes to reduce energy intensity three percent annually, lessen greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent by 2020, get at least 7.five % of its electrical energy from renewable energy, decrease water use by 16 percent by 2015 and support improvement of a 240-megawatt commercial solar power generation facility in Region 25.

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