Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Dear Editor,

It might not be a bad idea to place all our nuclear site in one site, as Secretary Abraham suggests (3/26), but let's make sure it's a safe site. Nuclear waste is the most dangerous substance we have created and continue to create regardless of the fact that we do not have a scientifically sound plan to dispose of it. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently ordered all 68 pressurized-water reactors to check their lids to see if they are still fit for service, following an incident at a plant in Ohio where acid had eaten a hole nearly all the way through the six-inch reactor lid, nearly leading to the release of thousands of gallons of radioactive water into the reactor's containment building. There are many reasons why Congress should reject Yucca Mountain, including threats to drinking water and transportation of the waste.

Perhaps the Administration is so comfortable with the "science" because they tailored standards to fit the site rather than the other way around. When it was clear that the Environmental Projection Agency's existing drinking water safety standards would disqualify Yucca Mountain, the Administration weakened them. The EPA exempted an 11-mile portion of an underground water supply surrounding Yucca Mountain from Safe Drinking Water Act provisions-- placing water quality for Nevadans at risk and setting a dangerous precedent for future federal actions.

Secretary Abraham further dismisses legitimate concerns about the safety of transporting nuclear waste. If Yucca is approved, up to 100,000 atomic waste truck and train shipments would travel through 45 states within half a mile of the 50 million people's homes. These shipments are at risk of severe transport accidents and terrorist attacks. And these risks would be taken to bring the waste to one more unsafe site. Nuclear reactors will continue to house waste as it cools and will continue to generate it so long as we continue to rely on this dangerous power source.

As this issue moves on to Congress, Representatives and Senators should look at all of the science and vote to reject this unsound site.


Carl Pope
Executive Director, Sierra Club
San Francisco, CA