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Air Force chief objects to Yucca Mountain nuclear routes 

By Keith Rogers Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 22, 2017 Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson sees a need to protect the space frontier and envisions bolstering the ranks of drone warfare all while preserving the vast Southern Nevada range that shrinks as fighter jets zip faster across it.

What she doesn’t see in her crystal ball is a nuclear-waste train rolling across the 2.9-million-acre Nevada Test and Training Range to reach the Department of Energy’s planned repository at Yucca Mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

“If Yucca Mountain becomes a storage area it needs to operate without impacting the ability of the country to defend itself,” Wilson said Friday in an exclusive interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “There is no route across the range that would not impact testing and training.”

Even a rail corridor that closely parallels the range’s boundary in Nye County could raise encroachment issues, she said, comparing what Nellis Air Force Base has dealt with balancing jet noise complaints and national security as urban Las Vegas sprawled closer to it over the decades……..

n 2003, Air Force Secretary James Roche and Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper wrote the House Armed Services Committee objecting to the Energy Department’s proposed Chalk Mountain route across the range. They said it would impact “mission-critical systems evaluations” as well as air combat training. They noted that 75 percent of all Air Force live munitions stateside are employed there.

Roving the range

The range’s role in testing of how new generation aircraft perform and can be detected or not by radar is also vital to the readiness.

Roche and Jumper also expressed concern for the fringe of the range citing “any modified routes into portions of the NTTR (Nevada Test and Training Range). Additionally, any overflight restrictions on aircraft operating in NTTR-associated airspace will negatively impact our readiness activities.”

The Chalk Mountain route, a short-cut option for rail shipments of spent nuclear fuel assemblies from the Midwest and eastern U.S., was later downgraded to “nonpreferred” by the Energy Department but is still part of the routes evaluated for the license application submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2008…….. https://www.reviewjournal.com/news/military/air-force-chief-objects-to-yucca-mountain-nuclear-routes/

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July 24, 2017 - Posted by | safety, USA

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