Yucca Mountain and the Environment

June 2000

The Yucca Mountain Project places a high priority on protecting the environment. To ensure compliance with all state and federal environmental laws and regulations, the Project established an Environmental Management System. Essential elements of the Environmental Management System include the following:

  • Environmental monitoring of air, water, and other natural resources
  • Land stewardship — protecting plant and animal species by minimizing land disturbance and restoring vegetation and wildlife habitat
  • Cultural resources
  • Pollution prevention and waste minimization
  • Waste management

Reducing the impacts of Project activities on the environment will continue for the duration of the Project.


Many environmental scientists work on the Yucca Mountain Project. Over the past 20 years, we have established a regional monitoring system to gather information for protecting biological resources (such as plants and animals), cultural resources, air quality, and water resources. Biologists, like the one in the photo to the left, have studied the area’s primary plant and animal species. Environmental scientists also monitor air and water quality. Information gathered from monitoring is used in developing plans and methods to prevent adverse impacts on the natural resources at Yucca Mountain.

Information from these studies was also used in our environmental impact statement to assess the impacts of the Yucca Mountain Project on the environment.*


Stewardship of land resources is accomplished through a program based on minimizing the land area disturbed by Project activities, managing activities, and concerned sites to reduce and prevent additional impacts, and restoring disturbed areas to their natural state when They are completed. Pictured in the photo collage are a re-vegetation study plot and a mulching process underway. Both of these are essential elements to restoring disturbed areas. Through this program, our scientists preserve and protect the threatened desert tortoise and its habitat, cultural resources, air quality, and water resources.

The reclamation program is part of our land stewardship efforts and involves restoring native vegetation in disturbed areas. The Project has already successfully restored disturbed areas and will continue these efforts throughout the life of the Project.


The Yucca Mountain Project is committed to protecting the archaeological and historic resources in the Yucca Mountain area. Our Cultural Resources Management program has two components: an archeology program and a Native American interaction program.

Archaeologists have surveyed and cataloged most of the area’s significant cultural resources and historic sites in the Yucca Mountain area. The Native American inhabitants of the area were documented, as well as how they used the plant and animal resources (like desert tortoises) of the Yucca Mountain area.

The Native American interaction program was initiated in 1987 to protect the area’s cultural resources. This program promotes information exchange among 17 tribes and organizations from Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and California. The program provides ways for the tribes to keep us informed of their cultural and environmental concerns and for us to inform the tribes of Project plans and activities.


Pollution prevention seeks to minimize waste and impacts on natural resources, use alternative energy, and promote environmental awareness among Yucca Mountain Project employees. Our goals are to reduce the use of non-renewable resources and identify and use environmentally safe products whenever possible.

Employees are trained to prioritize environmental issues and incorporate pollution prevention goals into project planning and daily work activities.


Although we strive to minimize the waste generated by Project activities through the pollution prevention program, not all waste can be eliminated. Our waste management program ensures that we properly manage and dispose of hazardous and non-hazardous waste according to state and federal laws. This helps prevent pollution, ensures the safety and health of our workers and the public, and protects the environment.