Nearly 35,000 metric tons of spent, but still deadly, fuel rods and other toxic waste are stowed in concrete casks and water-filled cooling pools at 70 commercial nuclear power plants across the nation. Since 1994, the federal Energy Department has been burrowing into the Yucca mountain, 100 miles north of Las Vegas and on the edge of a federal nuclear weapons testing site. The point of digging is to let scientists determine whether this ancient volcanic mound can safely contain highly radioactive waste for hundreds of thousands of years.
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