The US Congress approved a plan Tuesday to dump thousands of tons of radioactive waste inside Yucca Mountain in the state of Nevada despite strong opposition of its residents.
The Senate voted 60-39 to override a veto by Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn barring shipments of nuclear waste to the depository site some 90 miles (some 144 km) northwest of Las Vegas, clearing the way for President George W. Bush to proceed with the project that has been studied for more than two decades. The House of Representatives approved the plan in May.
Guinn has vowed to block the project in federal courts. "While disappointed the Senate did not uphold my veto of the Yucca Mountain project, it is clear we have made considerable headway inconvincing others that Yucca Mountain is a bad idea," the governorsaid in a statement.
The state of Nevada has already filed six lawsuits in federal court to try to stop the project.
Despite the senate vote, the Energy Department must still apply for a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the project, which will store 77,000 tons of nuclear waste coming fromthe nation's 103 nuclear power plants and military facilities.
The Bush administration and other supporters of the Nevada waste dump argued that leaving nuclear waste dumps scattered all around the country would create a security hazard, particularly inthe wake of the September 11 attacks.