It wasn’t jus’ flash flooding that shuttered U.S. 95 from Tonopah to the Pahrump exit – it was a fire at a nuclear waste dump in Beatty. Drivers on U.S. 95 can often see the company’s trucks driving in and out of the desert.
The Beatty Dump, as it is sometimes called, desolate stretch in the Amargosa Desert. It looks harmless from the highway with the appropriately named Bare Mountains in the distance.
But they’re carrying hazardous chemicals and materials largely from California to the facility, made up of storage tanks and lined holes in the desert that range in the size from a sandbox to a few football fields. Next to the nuclear storage site, the company also operates one of eight hazardous waste and treatment facilities in the state.
The state, which leases 80 acres to US Ecology, charges the company a fee for every shipment of waste to the facility. The Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources says that over the last five years, fees have totaled more than $10 million.
US Ecology manages 22 low-level nuclear waste trenches in Nevada, which were filled from 1970 to 1992. An agreement is in the works that would increase the Beatty site by 400 acres and extend the facility’s lifespan by at least 20 years as the current site is nearly full.
Environmental Protection Agency documents from 2012 showed the company is allowed to store up to 87,400 gallons of chemicals in tanks and containers and treat 137,000 gallons of chemical waste every day. It also disposed of at least 808 million gallons of waste there.
Sunday’s fire reportedly did not emit above-average doses of radiation. The blaze was allowed to burn itself out because crews couldn’t use water on the potentially toxic material.
Results from aerial surveys by the Department of Energy were negative as was monitoring by four Nevada National Guard soldiers, who walked within six-feet of the burn center to detect if any heavier radioactive beta or alpha particles were carried by the smoke plume and fell to the ground. Items buried in the dump include contaminated laboratory gear, medical isotopes, used-nuclear-fuel assemblies, chemicals and electrical transformers tainted with cancer-causing PCBs.
These are the same kinds of waste that Nevada’s state and federal leaders have been trying to prevent from being shipped to Yucca Mountain for years, proving their fight is more political economics than environmental. It also proves that Progressive voters are nothing more than useful idiots.