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The Future of Yucca Mountain After the Japanese Quake
The Future of Yucca Mountain After the Japanese Quake

AIR DATE: March 29, 2011

The catastrophe in Japan has led to a rethinking on the issue of a nuclear waste repository. But what that rethinking is, depends on whose doing the thinking. Officials in states with nuclear reactors are now redoubling their efforts to re-open Yucca Mountain because the spent fuel pools have failed in the Japanese tsunami. Nevada officials insist that the catastrophe only proves their contention that high-level nuclear waste is too dangerous to store in Nevada. So what is the future of Yucca Mountain and will the review of the nuclear industry in the wake of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami change anyone's mind?

David Stahl, Associate Exec Dir, Nuclear Technology Programs, The Harry Reid Center, UNLV
Joe Strolin, Acting Exec Dir, Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects

Darius Dixon, reporter,
Andy Fitz, senior counsel, Washington State Attorney General's Office

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It is very unfortunate that the nuclear industry and certain of their allies in Congress continue down the Yucca Mountain path. The chances of the Yucca Mountain program ever re-starting, let alone resulting in a repository are extremely slim. The Department of Energy has abandoned it as unworkable; the state of Nevada has hundreds of serious and substantial technical objections just waiting to be prosecuted in the NRC licensing proceeding; the site is rife with major geotechnical flaws; the costs of the project are astronomical and growing; opposition in much of the nation will be energized once the realities of the massive, nationwide spent fuel shipping campaign needed to bring waste to Nevada become apparent. Technology now exists to store waste on site at reactor location in safe, secure dry storage for a hundred years or more. It's time to acept reality and begin finding real, workale solutions to the spent fuel problem and let Yucca die the death this bloated and unsafe project so richly deserves.
Joe S.Mar 24, 2011 12:01:03 PM
Much is made of the State's opposition, but nothing is said about the host county. Nye County commissioners just passed a resolution (2011-21) stating that licensing of Yucca Mountain should go forward and that, if the conclusion is that Yucca Mountain can be safely operated, Nye County supports the project, consistent with earlier resolutions in 2002 (2002-22) and 2004 (2004-25). Nye County has conducted its own independent scientific studies for the past 20 years, as well as reviewed DOE studies, and has concluded that the repository can be constrcuted and operated in a manner that adequately protects the public. Given the politics of nuclear waste disposal at the state level in any state, it is unlikely that another alternative can be found within any reasonable time frame. Damages to nuclear utilities for failure to accept their spent fuel total about $2 billion to date and continue to accrue at roughly $500 million a year. Damages are paid from general revenues, not the Nuclear Waste Fund supported by utility ratepayers. Benefits to Nevada and Nye County would be made available if the state were to adopt a constructive approach.
BobMar 24, 2011 10:53:43 AM
Depositing waist in the largest salt deposit in the north american continent 2000 feet down will encapsulate the waist for thousands of years! they even came up with a way to warn futer people with the "2000 year worning sign"!! No earth quake threats, no ground water contamination, and no farming land! think death vally, but underground. The best part is that it is here, and has been running for the past 20 years! wake up stupid Washington!
Varn NelsonMar 24, 2011 10:47:14 AM
My father works at W.I.P.P. sit in south east New Mwxico. tis site has been up and rinning for about 20 years now,but only recieves low level waist. Depositing high level would be ideal here. And, transportation is been taken care of with the trupack safe containers, and safe truck routs!
Varn NelsonMar 24, 2011 10:29:47 AM
This whole debate is political because there are experts who come to completely opposing views.
JamesMar 24, 2011 10:29:25 AM
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