In the push to open a national nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, the nuclear power industry claims that it is better to consolidate the nation’s waste at one site, rather than leave it at nuclear reactors across the country. Yucca Mountain is initially planned to hold 77,000 metric tons of nuclear waste, with possible expansion in the future. Although there is intense earthquake and volcanic activity at the site, risks of transporting the highly radioactive wastes cross-country, as well as the proposed dump’s rising costs, the decision to locate the national nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain is based on providing welfare to the nuclear lobby and the utilities that operate nuclear power plants.
The Yucca Mountain proposal entails transporting highly radioactive waste from temporary storage sites in 45 states by train, truck and barge routes that come within miles of some 50,000,000 people. If you would like to see how close the proposed shipments come to your own residence, visithttp://www.mapscience.org. In the past 25 years alone, over 600 earthquakes of 2.5 or greater on the Richter Scale have struck within 50 miles of Yucca Mountain. In 1992, a 5.6 quake cracked walls, shattered windows, and caused some one million dollars in damage to the Department of Energy (DoE) field office studying the site. A 1999 quake derailed a train on a railway that could be used to haul nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain. The most recent earthquake registered a magnitude of 4.4 on June 14th, 2002.
Even if Yucca Mountain opens, high-level nuclear waste will remain at every operating reactor site (unless the industry plans to permanently close its reactors-an unlikely scenario), including in California. According to the Department of Energy’s Environmental Impact Statement, there currently are 2,040 metric tons of lethal high-level radioactive waste in California. Following a 38-year waste shipment program, which would include anywhere from 13,690 shipments (if primarily by rail) to 14,479 shipments (if primarily by road) in California, we still would have 1,681 metric tons of this waste within our borders! This is because Yucca Mountain is limited, by law, in how much waste can be placed there.
Clearly, Yucca Mountain would not solve the nation’s radioactive waste problem, it would just spread it across our highways and railways. The Senate, which is expected to vote on this issue in the next week, should reject the earthquake-prone Yucca project and begin working on a real solution to nuclear waste. The best alternative to Yucca Mountain is to stop making nuclear waste and to convert existing waste into dry cask storage to be maintained in the interim at reactor sites. While nuclear waste already exists, creating more nuclear waste without having a safe or scientifically credible means of disposal is simply irresponsible.
What can you do?
Write a letter or call your Senator and urge them to oppose the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. The vote is expected to take place on 9 July, so your urgent action is needed now!
To find your Senator, call the congressional switchboard or visit the following websites to locate contact information. You can also find local district contract information in the government pages of your phone book.
Congressional Switchboard is 202-225-3121
How close are YOU to proposed Yucca high level nuke waste transportation routes & the closest nuke reactor? Find out at http://www.mapscience.org
Nuclear Information and Resource Service http://www.nirs.org
Public Citizen http://www.publiccitizen.org/atomicroad