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Editor's Note: The Senate on July 9 joined the House of Representatives in approving Yucca Mountain as the nation's first geological repository. The vote overrides Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn's veto of Yucca Mountain and clears the way for the Department of Energy to begin preparations for a license application.

Why Yucca Mountain?

The advent of the nuclear age created a compelling environmental and safety challenge for the nuclear industry: where to store high-level waste. This year, a solution may finally be at hand if Yucca Mountain, Nev., is approved as the nation's first geological repository.

Today, high-level nuclear waste is stored at power plants across the country. In 1982, Congress mandated the Department of Energy to find a permanent storage site.

For decades, the National Academy of Sciences has recommended disposing waste in rock, deep underground to ensure the protection of public health and the environment. Nuclear scientists and engineers, after carefully scrutinizing peer-reviewed data and analysis, have concluded that the DOE's selection of Yucca Mountain more than meets this criterion.

The repository at Yucca Mountain would be located 1,000 feet below the earth's rocky surface, 1,000 feet above the water table and in a remote area of the Nevada desert. The unique combination of rock characteristics and the deep water table make the Yucca Mountain site capable of isolating the spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.

For more information, call the American Nuclear Society Outreach Department at 708-352-6611.

Last updated July 12, 2012, 9:39am CDT.

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