Inside Opinion

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Tag: Yucca Mountain


Hanford’s nuclear waste can’t wait another 70 years

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Set a deadline far in the future. Add 25 years. Maybe 50.

That’s the sluggishness with which the federal government – thanks in part to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – has been dealing with the nation’s most radioactive nuclear waste. A truly scary amount of that waste is quietly seething in our own backyard, at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

A new leak at Hanford demonstrates the folly of strangling the safest disposal option in sight – deep burial in dry Nevada – while letting high-level nuclear waste pile up near rivers around the country in stopgap storage containers.

Hanford hosts 56 million gallons of hot reactor byproducts in 177 steel-walled underground tanks, some dating to the heyday of Betty Grable.

Collectively, they’ve leaked an estimated 1 million gallons of waste into the desert soil, creating radioactive plumes that are gradually headed for the Columbia River.

The Department of Energy put a stop to the big leaks years ago by pumping out liquids from the tanks, leaving crusty, gooey, toxic sludges inside.

Water has been penetrating one of these supposedly “stabilized” tanks. The lyrically named T-111 has reportedly resumed leaking at a rate of 150 to 300 gallons a year.

This is a reminder that the nation’s largest concentration of nuclear waste is stored under insanely makeshift conditions. The oldest tanks, including T-111, were engineered to last 20 years. They were built in 1943 and 1944.
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Future of nation’s nuclear waste buried in deficit

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Any hope of the federal government living up to its obligation to provide a permanent storage site for the nation’s nuclear waste is fast disappearing.

The Obama administration has delivered on the president’s campaign promise to halt construction of the most plausible option, a repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

While the feds mull their options, spent nuclear fuel and other radioactive waste is piling up in 39 states, Washington included.

Last month, a presidential panel suggested farming out the waste to communities hungry for jobs. Never mind the $10.5 billion the nation has already invested in Yucca Mountain – the panel was under orders to not consider the site.
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Weekend roundup of state editorial pages

Some of the more interesting fodder from the weekend’s editorial pages:

• The Spokesman-Review criticizes Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle for vetoing a bill to give same-sex couples the same rights as married couples. “Exaggeration and fear-mongering are regular features of political campaigns, but wouldn’t it make sense for opponents of equal rights in other states to take a look at ours to see what has happened? … In reality, the extension of rights and benefits to all citizens has been quiet and dignified.”

• The Longview Daily News reacts to news that U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., thinks

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NRC judges made the right call on Yucca Mountain

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Someone at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission got it right – just not the right someone.

The commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board ruled last week that the Obama administration’s attempt to pull the plug on a nuclear waste dump in Nevada amounts to an illegal end-run.

A day later, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission itself appealed the decision.

The judges on the three-member safety and licensing board look to what the law allows. As for the political appointees on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the five-member panel charged with making the final call?

Well, you could say they have other concerns – concerns that might just dovetail with those of the president who nominated them, a president who campaigned on killing plans to to open a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.

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Harry Reid, Hanford and the triumph of science

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

An expert scientific commission to visit Hanford next month has a fascinating scientific mandate from President Obama: Look everywhere in America for the best place to bury radioactive reactor wastes.

Everywhere, that is, except Nevada. Nevada, the state where the federal government has spent $10.5 billion developing Yucca Mountain as a permanent nuclear waste repository. The dry-as-talcum-powder state identified 20-plus years ago as the best place in America to bury radioactive waste.

We know this is a highly scientific mission because Obama has assured the nation that – unlike George W. Bush

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