[ RadSafe ] Obama Explains Yucca Mountain Stance
JMKwasnik at dhhs.state.nh.us
JMKwasnik at dhhs.state.nh.us
Wed Dec 10 13:33:18 CST 2008
Don't know if I should laugh or cry. This is sad.
<wayne.davis at wsms.com
radsafe-bounces at radla
12/10/2008 01:48 PM
To "Bernard L. Cohen" <blc+ at pitt.edu>
cc "Muckerheide, Jim \(CDA\)" <Jim.Muckerheide at state.ma.us>, Ted Rockwell
<tedrock at starpower.net>, RadiatSafety <radsafe at radlab.nl>
Subject [ RadSafe ] Obama Explains Yucca Mountain Stance
In his own words...
October 30, 2007
Dear Leader Reid and Chairman Boxer:
I understand that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is
holding a hearing on October 31 entitled, "Examination of the Licensing
Process for the Yucca Mountain Repository," at which Senator Reid is
scheduled to testify. I know both of you have been working on this issue
for many years, so I am writing to share my perspective on the issue
given its importance to my home state of Illinois. Although I am no
longer a member of the EPW Committee, I respectfully offer the following
views and ask that they be included as part of the hearing record.
Separately, I will be submitting questions for the hearing witnesses.
Given the nation's rising energy demand and the serious problems posed
by global climate change, we need to increase the use of carbon-free
energy sources, such as solar, wind, and geothermal energy. But we
cannot deny that nuclear power is - and likely will remain - an
important source of electricity for many years to come. How we deal with
the dangerous byproduct of nuclear reactors is a critical question that
has yet to be resolved.
As you may know, Illinois has 11 nuclear reactors - more than any other
state in the country. Nuclear power provides more than 50 percent of the
electricity needs of Illinois. Where and how we store spent nuclear fuel
is an extremely important issue for my constituents. Currently, in the
absence of any alternative, spent nuclear fuel generated by Illinois'
reactors is stored in Illinois.
In 1987, Congress attempted to reach a national solution to the storage
of spent nuclear fuel and other radioactive waste by abandoning the
scientific consideration of a wide range of possible sites and instead
unilaterally imposing a final decision to focus only on Yucca Mountain,
Nevada. During the past 20 years, over the strong opposition of the
people of Nevada, billions of dollars have been spent by taxpayers and
ratepayers in the construction of this location. Millions of dollars
have been spent on lawsuits, and hundreds of millions more will be spent
in the future if the Department of Energy fails to meet its contractual
obligations to nuclear utilities.
Proponents suggest Yucca Mountain will not be ready to accept spent fuel
shipments for another 10 years; more realistic prognostications suggest
we are at least two decades from Yucca Mountain accepting shipments.
Legitimate scientific questions have been raised about the safety of
storing spent nuclear fuel at this location. With regard to Yucca
Mountain, the National Academy of Sciences maintains that peak risks
might occur hundreds of thousands of years from now. In 2004, a federal
court questioned whether standards developed by the Environmental
Protection Agency for the Yucca Mountain repository were sufficient to
guarantee the safety of Nevadans.
Questions also have been raised about the viability of transporting
spent nuclear fuel to Nevada from different locations around the
country. Although it would seem to serve the interests of Illinois - and
other states with nuclear reactors - to send our waste to another state,
transporting nuclear waste materials poses uncertain risk. In fact,
since a large amount of this spent fuel would likely travel by rail,
this is a serious concern for the people of Chicago, which is the
transportation hub of the Midwest.
Because of these safety issues and the unwavering opposition from the
people of Nevada and their elected officials, there is strong reason to
believe that many more billions of dollars could be expended on Yucca
Mountain without any significant progress in moving towards a permanent
solution to the problem of where to store spent nuclear fuel.
For these reasons, I believe that it is no longer a sustainable federal
policy for Yucca Mountain to be considered as a permanent repository.
Instead of re-examining the 20-year licensing process and the billions
of dollars that have already been spent, the time has come for the
federal government to refocus its resources on finding more viable
alternatives for the storage of spent nuclear fuel. Among the possible
alternatives that should be considered are finding another state willing
to serve as a permanent national repository or creating regional storage
repositories. The federal government should also redirect resources
toward improving the safety and security of spent fuel at plant sites
around the country until a safe, long-term solution can be implemented.
Regardless of what alternative is pursued, two premises should guide
federal decision-making. First, any storage option should be supported
by sound science. We need to ensure that nuclear waste can be safely
stored without polluting aquifers or soil and exposing nearby residents
to toxic radiation.
Second, we should select a repository location through a process that
develops national consensus and respects state sovereignty, not one in
which the federal government cuts off debate and forces one state to
accept nuclear waste from other states. The flawed process by which
Yucca Mountain was selected now manifests itself as a profoundly
expensive endeavor of monumental proportion.
In short, the selection of Yucca Mountain has failed, the time for
debate on this site is over, and it is time to start exploring new
alternatives for safe, long-term solutions based on sound science. I
thank you both for your leadership on this issue, and I appreciate your
consideration of my views.
United States Senator
From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] On
Behalf Of Bernard L. Cohen
Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 1:57 PM
To: RadiatSafety; Ted Rockwell; Muckerheide, Jim (CDA)
Subject: [ RadSafe ] query
Can someone remind me of the reasons President-elect Obama gives for
opposing construction of the Yucca Mountain repository?
Bernard L. Cohen
Physics Dept., University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Tel: (412)624-9245 Fax: (412)624-9163
e-mail: blc at pitt.edu web site: http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc
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