Energy & Sustainability See Inside 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 By Matthew L. Wald 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. This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now! Select an option below: Buy Digital Issue Customer Sign In *You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com. Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access. ADVERTISEMENT Scientific American is a trademark of Scientific American, Inc., used with permission © 2013 Scientific American, a Division of Nature America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.