Elko Daily Free Press

Nov 4 2000 12:00AM

Editor:

Gary Bégin's recent story "Elko warned about nuclear waste routes," (Oct. 30) underscores the important choice Nevadans will make in voting for the next President of the United States.

As Bégin noted, if a nuclear waste dump is opened at Yucca Mountain, 19,000 shipments of the world's deadliest poison will be traveling through Elko. Each one of these shipments represents a potential disaster that could unleash radiation and damage the environment for decades.

Republican leaders in Congress have pinned their hopes of sending nuclear waste to Nevada on George W. Bush. Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico, a Bush supporter, predicted in July, that if a Republican were elected to the White House, a nuclear waste dump would be built in Nevada in a matter of months. And just this week, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert said that the only way to protect children from nuclear waste in his home state of Illinois was to hurry up and dump it in the Silver State.

Nevadans should also know the truth about George W. Bush's questionable record on nuclear waste in Texas. As governor, Bush lobbied to bring a low-level nuclear waste dump to his home state, even though residents living near the site opposed it.

At the time, Bush told Texans he would fight to limit the amount of nuclear waste that would be accepted at the dump. But then in order to help a wealthy donor, Bush turned around and lobbied Congress to allow nuclear waste from all over the country to be shipped to Texas. Bush's broken promise to Texans about nuclear waste should make Nevadans think twice before they count on his protection as president.

The difference between George W. Bush and Al Gore on the nuclear waste issue is clear. Gore has said there will absolutely be no immediate storage of nuclear waste in Nevada under a Gore administration. Bush, on the other hand, would allow nuclear waste to be stored in Nevada if it were deemed to be scientifically safe.

If nuclear waste is ever sent to Nevada on an interim or "temporary" basis, odds are the waste will stay put. So without Al Gore's veto, Nevadans could face the real possibility of nuclear waste coming to our state as early as next year.

If that happens, shipment after shipment of nuclear waste would travel through Elko on its way to Yucca Mountain. And once the waste is here, it will stay in Nevada for the next 10,000 years. With so much at stake for our communities and for Nevada, can we risk leaving the future in the hands of George W. Bush? On Nov. 7, the answer to that question should be no!

Rory Reid - Nevada State Democratic Party Chairman