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Transportation of High-Level Waste

Nevada Rail

As a consequence of the DOE pending withdrawal of the Yucca Mountain License Application, application for water transfer was also withdrawn. That water was proposed as use to build the proposed Nevada Rail Line. Further plans to build a Nevada Rail line were halted as well as work to complete a final project-specific EIS.

  • Nevada Rail options prior to year 2010

In 2006, Energy Department officials considered a Northern Nevada route, known as the Mina corridor, as an alternative rail route to the nuclear waste repository they want to build at Yucca Mountain. The Mina route also would pass through Esmeralda County.

To many analysts, the east-west Caliente corridor will be more expensive and more challenging from an engineering and construction standpoint than the 209-mile north-south Mina route. The Mina Route would mostly utilize abandoned, graded rail bed constructed in the early 1900s for mining support throughout the west-central Nevada region.

Even so, the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (OCRWM) were engaged in a project-specific EIS for the Nevada Rail line, addressing both the Caliente and Mina Corridors.

The benefits of Nevada Rail to local and state economies identified in the EIS should be integrated in the purpose, need for, and design of the system. Otherwise, the rail line likely will be designed, built, and operated to optimally transport HLW and SNF, but not to benefit local economies. Involvement in interpretation of the purpose and need for Nevada Rail would enable local entities to participate in the planning and design of the system. Including state and local decision makers in design and planning will help minimize disruptions and growth impacts during construction and ensure regional economic benefit beyond the life of the repository project.

If a Nevada Rail line is constructed, Esmeralda County should consider the advantages of greater affiliation and involvement in ownership and operation of the rail line regardless of alignment.  An ownership and operation structure should be established to involve all impacted interests.  Any such structure should include a model for distributing costs, effort, and benefits among the participating agencies, local government, and eventual owners following transportation of spent fuel to the repository.

Transportation Routing

One of the rail routes that is currently identified in the Yucca Mountain EIS travels from the north end of Lander County continuing south to the Lander County boundary line. Lander County will monitor and study impacts on the county and it's residents in the event that this railway is constructed as well as:

Overview of U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) proposed spent nuclear fuel and High Level Waste (HLW) transportation systems:  DOE has developed a private sector approach for moving spent nuclear fuel to a national geological repository (Yucca Mountain) in southern Nevada.  DOE is pursuing an acquisition process that relies on private industry (contractors) to help the department provide services and equipment required to move waste to Yucca Mountain, Nevada.  Under a draft Request for Proposals (RFP), published on September 1998 by DOE's Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (i.e., OCRWM or RW), the department intends to purchase services and equipment from Regional Servicing Contractors (RSCs) who will perform waste acceptance and transportation operations to Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

OCRWM will maintain primary responsibility to the States, Tribes and Affected Units of Government (AUG) for assuring appropriate interaction and consideration of their input on transportation of spent nuclear fuel and will retain final approval of all transportation routes.  The private sector contractors will accept spent nuclear fuel from its owners and generators (i.e., public and private nuclear power plants) and supply transportation casks and equipment for moving spent fuel to Yucca Mountain.


Transportation Resources Information

Lander County Rail Impact Assessment, November- 2006

There are two Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) lines traversing northern Lander

County. The westbound track, referred to as Track No. 1, is generally parallel to Interstate 80 (I-80) and goes through Battle Mountain. Track No. 2 is located north of Track No. 1 and carries eastbound trains. This study assesses<

utilization of the rail corridor, the condition of points where railroad tracks cross roadways, and safety issues. It also maps zoning and physical characteristics of the corridor.

both rail lines have a Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) classification of

Class 4, which allows for heavy haul trains with speeds over 50 miles per hour

(mph). Typical speeds on the westbound track are 49 mph for freight and 59

mph for passenger trains, both are slowed to 45 mph though Battle Mountain.

Speeds on the eastbound track are 70 mph for freight and 79 mph for passenger trains. There are approximately 15 eastbound and westbound freight trains per day. There is also a limited amount of local service, typically five trains per day, and daily AMTRAK service. The tracks have closely spaced timber ties and appear to be in good condition. Under normal operating conditions all eastbound trains use Track No. 2 and all westbound trains use Track No. 1. However, due to local traffic serving industrial uses in the area, trains could occasionally travel in either direction on either track.

Due to the large size of this document it has been broken up into sections as follows:

Pages 1– 11 (Adobe PDF File 582 kb)

Pages 12-23 (Adobe PDF file 544 kb)

Pages 24-36 (Adobe PDF File 409 kb)

Pages 37-49 (Adobe PDF File 2,412 kb)

Pages 50-63 (Adobe PDF File 3,501 kb


Emergency Planning, Preparedness, and Response