See Inside August 2009

Is There a Place for Nuclear Waste?

Yucca Mountain was supposed to be the answer to the U.S.'s nuclear waste problem, but after 22 years and $9 billion, that vision is dead. Now, some say that doing nothing in the near term may be the smartest solution

Peter Essick (Getty Images)

Two weeks after President Barack Obama pulled the plug on Yucca Mountain, the site near Las Vegas where the federal government has been trying for 22 years to open a repository for nuclear waste, geochemist James L. Conca came to Washington, D.C., with an idea in his pocket.

Conca has been assigned by the state of New Mexico to monitor the environment around a different federal nuclear dump, one used for defense-related plutonium, and where others see problems, he sees opportunity.

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