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NUKE WASTE: Outcry over Yucca Mountain reflects hypocrisy

Letter by Joseph C. Strolin, Carson City, Nev. on June 6, 2011 at 11:36 am with 2 Comments »
June 6, 2011 3:20 pm

Re: “Hastings slams DOE over Yucca Mountain closure” (newstribune.com, 6-2).

All the hand-wringing and crocodile tears being shed over the decision to terminate the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump by Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and others at the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing June 1 just serve to highlight the hypocrisy that has characterized Congress’ involvement in the nuclear waste management issue over the years.

Where was the outcry when Washington’s own Tom Foley (then House majority leader) joined forces with the likes of Jim Wright (speaker of the House from Texas), Louisiana Sen. J. Bennet Johnston (Energy Committee chair) and all the others who, in 1987, used raw politics and political muscle to get potential repository sites in their states off the hook by sticking it to a then politically vulnerable Nevada?

Yucca Mountain never was a safe and suitable site, but that didn’t stop Congress from trying to force it on Nevada anyway. Now that the chickens have come home to roost, its time for Hastings and others to stop whining and support the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future in finding a safe, acceptable and workable solution to the nation’s nuclear waste problem.

Keeping the focus on Yucca just compounds the mistaskes of the past.

(Strolin is acting executive director of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects.)

Leave a comment Comments → 2
  1. JJRaleigh says:

    Why do you continue to let this hack post in your paper??? Abe Van Luik has answered this disingenuous author with the facts showing that Yucca Mountain was selected on the scientific evidence:

    “Rewriting history is easy when your readers do not go back and check that history. There is no doubt that Texas and Washington politically ganged up on Nevada and helped create the unfortunate “screw Nevada bill” of 1987 which handicapped DOE’s ability to convince skeptics that it was doing an honest job judging the safety of the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain.

    But whether individual Congressmen had read it or not, the Secretary of Energy advised Congress in 1986 that DOE judged three sites to be good candidates for site evaluations, and even listed these three sites in order of preference. With Yucca Mountain being first in that order. Here are the words used by the Secretary:

    “RECOMMENDATION BY THE SECRETARY OF ENERGY OF CANDIDATE SITES FOR SITE CHARACTERIZATION FOR THE FIRST RADIOACTIVE-WASTE REPOSITORY, DOE/S-0048, May 1986” Page 9: “Taking this information into account, the Yucca Mountain site scores well and is attractive as a candidate site. It is expected to perform very well in postclosure and scores best in preclosure when all performance measures are aggregated. In almost every alternative combination of preclosure performance measures considered, the Yucca Mountain site scores at or near the top. It is also the only tuff site and therefore preserves the option to characterize the maximum number of rock types.”

    Page 11: . . . ”it has been determined that the Yucca Mountain, Deaf Smith County, and Hanford sites are the three sites which constitute the final order of preference.”

    The Yucca Mountain license application shows a very high likelihood of transportation, operational, and long-term safety, but at a considerable cost. The likely outcome was most likely to be a 1% increase in the low background radiation levels experienced locally up to a million years into the future. This outcome considered many climate changes, many earthquakes, and even one very low probability volcanic event [an extremely violent magma flow] affecting the repository over that million-year time period.”

    I think Mr. Strolin secretly wants the project to proceed as it has paid his salary for 20+ years…

  2. alindasue says:

    THIS is why I oppose expanding the number of nuclear power generators. Yes, the plants themselves are generally safe enough (over-sized tsunamis not-withstanding), but there’s always the question of what to do with the toxic waste that’s leftover afterwards.

    No one wants it in their “backyard”, understandably so, but it has to be stored somewhere, eh.

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