The Nevada Appeal

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

OurView

Ringer on nuclear waste review board

Because the baseball playoffs are in the air, imagine for a moment that an umpire has written an opinion piece for a newspaper saying he thinks the Boston Red Sox should win the World Series.

Would you trust that umpire to work a game objectively and fairly? Well, if you were a Red Sox fan you might. Anybody else would cry foul.

That's exactly the situation, however, with Michael Corradini, chairman of the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, the group supposedly giving the federal government independent advice on Yucca Mountain.

Corradini, a University of Wisconsin physics engineering professor appointed to the nuclear review board by President Bush in June 2002, co-authored an essay published by a newspaper in Madison, Wis. In it, the writers state "nuclear waste can be stored safely at Yucca Mountain," and "the transportation of spent nuclear fuel is safe" because casks designed to carry waste to Nevada "are nearly indestructible."

Lots of people have that opinion, including President Bush. But when your job is to be objective and unbiased, spouting off opinions on one side of an issue should get you fired, or never hired in the first place. (Corradini expressed similar opinions in congressional testimony in 2001.)

Other members of the review board called for Corradini's resignation earlier this year, saying he has compromised the effectiveness of the board. But he's still there.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has renewed the call and is considering an attempt to terminate the board altogether. "Anyone with a sense of fairness would tell the guy to leave," Reid said.

Perhaps Corradini has done Nevada a favor in expressing his views. At least he's biased on the. record.

And perhaps that record will help Nevada's cause in the courts when it comes to stopping the Yucca Mountain project. It's one more example of "sound science" losing out to political favoritism.

Nevertheless, we'd rather the review board provide effective and scientifically open-minded analyses of the complex process proposed for Yucca Mountain. It can't do that with Corradini as chairman, or even as a member. Bush must toss him out of the game.