February 7, 2000
The Honorable Senator Orrin Hatch
Dear Senators Hatch and Bennett:
Downwinders urges you to OPPOSE the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2000 (S 1287). This legislation is clearly NOT in the best interest of your Utah constituents, is not in the best interests of the nation, and is unwise, unnecessary policy that compounds rather than solves the nuclear waste problem.
There are a number of provisions in the Act that are of great concern, to which we object. Those include the potential watering down of radiation safety standards for the Yucca Mountain site, the failure of the bill to adequately address cask safety by requiring full scale testing, and the apparent violation of U.S. non-proliferation policy in the sharing with other countries information regarding reprocessing technology developments.
Closer to home, the unnecessary and premature transportation of high level nuclear waste through Utah by truck and/or rail poses real danger to the life, health, and safety of Utah citizens, as well as to the image and economy of our state. Utah will face the most transportation impacts of any state, except arguably Nevada, should this legislation be enacted. Please note that the Draft EIS for the Yucca Mt. repository is woefully inadequate in addressing transportation impacts. Moving spent fuel to Nevada for temporary storage when there are continuing doubts about the suitability of Yucca Mt. needlessly exposes your constituents and millions of Americans to the risks of transportation accidents.
Knowing that you have supported this legislation in the past, we would at least ask that you work to amend out of the legislation the provision allowing "back up" "temporary" storage at a privately owned facility. This is tantamount to a congressional endorsement of the most likely private storage facility, the proposed Private Fuel Storage facility on the Skull Valley Goshute Reservation. (It would also allow for spent fuel storage at Owl Creek, in neighboring Wyoming.) This also undermines the Governor's and the State of Utah's position regarding the PFS deal. We would hope this would not be your intent.
You well know the nuclear legacy suffered by citizens of Utah, and by Nevadans, and surely you are well aware of the widespread opposition in Utah, Nevada, and nationally to this erstwhile "solution" to the nation's nuclear waste mess. Isn't it time to stand up for the people of Utah and our Western neighbors by voting NO on this flawed special interest legislation?