For Immediate release
Contact: David A. Kraft, Director, 847-869-7650
Thursday, January 10, 2002, 5:00 p.m.
POLITICS, OPPORTUNISM OBLITERATE SCIENCE AS DOE'S
ABRAHAM PICK'S YUCCA MT. FOR HIGH-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTE DUMP
EVANSTON-- "Political opportunism" is how Illinois' nuclear power
watchdog organization characterizes Dept. of Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham's
letter recommending that Yucca Mt., Nevada, host the nation's first "high-level"
radioactive waste perpetual storage facility.
"DOE's irresponsible decision to recommend Yucca Mt. as a repository for 70,000 tons of ‘high- level' radioactive wastes (HLRW) is unconscionable, but expected, given who made it," asserts David A. Kraft, director for the Evanston-based Nuclear Energy Information Service, Illinois' nuclear power watchdog organization. "It proves again that DOE and the Bush Administration have little concern for public safety or the scientific process if either of these inconvenience their friends in the nuclear industry. It's politics and profits over people once again," Kraft states.
In his letter to Gov. Guinn of Nevada, Secretary Abraham claims that "the science behind this project is sound and the site is technically suitable." He further listed four rationalizations to justify his recommendation: national security; consolidation of nuclear wastes; continuation of the nuclear power industry; and environmental protection. Interestingly, although the High-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act of 1982 was written to find a solution to the Nation's growing commercial HLRW problem, Abraham's Rationalization 1 and 4 deal with nuclear weapons issues, secondary points in the original Act; while continuation of the nuclear power industry was never part of the DOE's official mandate.
"We should expect that ‘rationalizations' are all the public will receive from an appointed political hack who twice as Senator called for the abolition of the DOE. Failing in that mission, Abraham now uses the DOE to achieve politically corrupt ends. The man, the agency and the process have all been out of control for so long, no other outcome could be expected," Kraft observes.
NEIS takes strong exception to Secretary Abraham's rationalizations:
ABRAHAM: "We should consolidate the nuclear wastes to enhance protection against terrorists attacks by moving them to one underground location that is far from population centers.
NEIS Response: Yucca Mt. will do little to consolidate wastes
as long as reactors are allowed to operate and produce new wastes that
will continue filling the space vacated by removing the old waste.
Reactors must by regulation provide an operating spent fuel pool, or be
shut down; therefore Yucca will not result in the closure of any reactor
spent fuel pools until the reactors themselves are finally closed, and
maybe not even then if Exelon's Zion Station is a representative example.
It will add an additional nuclear waste dump to the region which also hosts
the fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States -- Las Vegas.
And one more large-scale, consolidated target for terrorists.
Further, the transportation of HLRW on our roads and highways will provide plenty of other opportunities for accidents or terrorist assaults to occur near population centers. DOE revealed in February, 2000, that Illinois alone could expect to receive as many as 36,300 truck shipments of HLRW over a 24 year period once Yucca Mt. was established. This is nearly a 20-fold increase in waste shipment frequency.
ABRAHAM: "We must advance our non-proliferation goals by providing a secure place to dispose of any spent fuel and other waste products that result from decommissioning unneeded nuclear weapons, and ensure the effective operations of our nuclear Navy by providing a secure place to dispose of its spent nuclear fuel."
NEIS RESPONSE: This absurdity comes from an Administration spokesperson scarcely one day after its announcement that some decommissioned warheads will not be "recycled," but stored; and after hinting at the possibility of resuming nuclear weapons testing. Internationally, this Administration's handling of nuclear weapons policy has done everything possible to restart the next nuclear arms race. Abraham's putative non-proliferation concerns seem a bit misplaced, and dwarfed by reality.
ABRAHAM: "...the science behind this project is sound and that
the site is technically suitable for
NEIS RESPONSE: The lengthy, costly Yucca Mt. examination process
has revealed significant problems. Each time these emerged, DOE changed
the siting guidelines so the site could continue to be a viable candidate.
Even the government's own GAO stated as late as November that a site recommendation
at this time is premature.
Five major unresolved issues question Yucca Mt.'s viability: