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DOE Environmental Impact Statement Maps

October 20, 2004

Marks the Spot: DOE Environmental Impact Statement Maps

Here are the maps our Government has provided.

Buried deep in “Appendix J” of the Department of Energy’s 5,000-page Environmental Impact Statement for the Yucca Mt. nuclear waste dump, published in February 2002, are a series of maps that depict the train, truck, and barge routes selected by DOE for its analysis. [Jump to government maps]

The government’s maps provide very little useful information to the public—and insult more than honor the public’s right to know about the transportation implications of the pending decision to initiate tens of thousands of cross-country shipments of extremely radioactive waste to Yucca Mountain in southwest Nevada.

You’ll notice that these maps are drawn to "satellite-view" scale, providing no local detail. In fact, major cities are not even depicted unless they happen to be the State capitol. The extremely controversial potential barge route maps—also buried deep in Appendix J—are on separate pages from the rail and highway maps, further obscuring crucial transportation information that local people have a right to before the Senate approves Yucca Mt.

By the way, if Yucca Mountain moves forward, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will not evaluate transportation aspects of the plan in approving the license. That will be up to DOE—the proponent of Yucca Mt—and the Dept. of Transportation. Governors will only have the power to state their preferences about routes and the timing of shipments. The federal government will have final say, not state an local people and their officials. (See FAQ: Will my governor set the routes?)

These may not be the final routes, but they do meet U.S. Department of Transportation regulations for transporting high-level nuclear waste. And these maps are the only information the goverment has provided. There are only so many choices under those regs. Yucca-bound nuclear shipments would basically have to travel along mainline freight rail routes and Interstate highways. Those rail lines, built many decades ago, connect big cities—just like Interstates do.

Yucca Mountain may sound like it’s in the middle of nowhere. But as you’ll see from MapScience, when it comes to shipping waste, this decision is really about the middle of dozens of America’s biggest cities, and thousands of smaller towns along the prospective routes.