At least it seems so by the violent defensive reactions from opponents in that state. As expected, Pres. Bush accepted the recommendation, by DOE Sec., Spencer Abraham, to mobilize the permanent nuclear waste storage facility under Yucca Mountain, (“Mt. Nuke”) about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The plan calls for up to 77,000 tons of waste fuel rods to be stored there for 10,000 years. Also as expected, the full force of opposition is being mobilized by Nevada governor, Kenny Guinn ®, and Senate Democratic whip Harry Reid (D-NV) who vowed to fight any law authorizing the waste dump and to file lawsuits to tie up proceedings as long as possible, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Guinn noted, “I am outraged. They have made their decision based on a false premise that the science is safe and it is not.” He can veto any Congressional budget action on the site, but that can be overruled. With Hoover Dam in the vicinity as a highly visible terrorist target, residents are not enthusiastic about another one. Not to mention the earthquake fault under the site.
A 10,000 page environmental impact statement released in February calls for most of the toxic waste to be shipped by rail and evaluates numerous scenarios for security breaches. Included was consideration of an airplane crash into the above ground temporary storage site, but no analysis was done on attack by an anti-tank missile. Critics claim the analysis is not valid because it is based on estimated crash impact data and on facility design that is not yet finalized. Critics also point to poorly analyzed risks of transporting the nuclear waste over long distances. They point out that the DOE contractor, Bechtel SAIC, said it would take until 2006 to complete a revised study.
The radioactive waste from 103 nuclear power plants in 39 states presently is stored on site. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-MI) noted, “There are thousands of tons of nuclear fuel stored just 100 yards from Lake Michigan. I think removing it from our shores is the single best way to protect the Great Lakes ecosystem.” Illinois is a shipping crossroad and well over half of the nuclear waste would pass through the state, endangering the Chicago area. Nevertheless, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) said, “We know the remote site beneath the Nevada desert is safe, secure, and viable and should be completed without delay.” He vowed to fight Gov. Guinn in Congress. Activating the site won’t be cheap. Budget estimates range up to $47 billion for repository construction, nuclear waste transportation, and security costs. Nuclear power generates about 20 percent of U.S. electricity. No new nuclear power plants have been built for 20 years, but some proponents recommend more to help reduce foreign oil imports and to lower air pollution caused by fossil fuel plants. Where do you stand?
Continue >> Part 4 - High-Availability Power Solutions Explained