December 14, 2000
And don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out
The Department of Energy
"We live with radiation every day," says the soft-spoken website for the Department of Energy's Yucca Mountain Project, in its best Mr. Rogers murmur. Cosmic rays, outer space, radon gas and other stuff zaps us constantly. "This is called natural background radiation," children. Can you say 'natural background radiation?' Sure you can.
Well, we in Nevada--though too many among us voted for Bush in a moment of vestigial redneckness, though our state invests in the nuclear power industry--do not want the DOE's particular variety of background radiation in our backyard. Nor do we want the rest of the nation exposed to the DOE's back porch toxins when it starts to send high-level nuclear waste, destined for the Yucca Mountain Waste Repository, out onto the winding highways of America.
"Protection of the public is of utmost importance to the [DOE]," the DOE placates, explaining that we are exposed to more radiation from flying in airplanes than from standing next to a truck full of waste going 15 miles per hour. (Tip over and bust open and spill? Nah, never happen!) And the repository--heck! Only the folks in Amargosa Valley, which is downstream of Yucca Mountain, would need to worry about any contamination for the next 10,000 years. What the DOE doesn't explain is that Amargosa Valley contains a biodiversity hotspot, Ash Meadows. Lots and lots of endemic species live over there in small springs and ponds.
So we think the DOE oughtta get on the fireball it rode in on decades ago, and roll on out of town.