Nevada Appeal

Nevada Appeal
February 29, 2004

Waste storage problem shouldn't be partisan

I am responding to the opinion column by Guy W. Farmer on nuclear waste published on February 22.

Mr. Farmer's column sprung from a recent statement made by Sen. Kerry that President Bush "caved to the special interests" in recommending Yucca Mountain as the site for disposal of the nation's nuclear waste and, Farmer contends, this was a partisan issue going back to 1987. He cited a 2001 vote in the Senate (presumably he meant the joint resolution to override Gov. Guinn's veto of the site, which occurred in 2002,) That 35 Democrats voted against the resolution against the interests of their own states was seen then as more loyalty to Assistant Majority Leader Harry Reid than a rejection of the disposal facility site approval.

Mr. Farmer has jumped the gun in imagining that Nevada has "won a partial victory" in the federal Court of Appeals. While the line of discussion in the court suggests that possibility exists, the court has made no decision as yet.

Finally, Farmer is a bit of course also in suggesting the next Department of Energy budget has a request for $186 million to study nuclear waste transportation routes. While that amount has been requested, $168 million of that would be for acquisition of special waste shipping containers that take several years to procure, manufacture and deliver.

Mr. Farmer probably knows that the study and planning for the Yucca Mountain repository has been conducted under the direction of both Democratic and Republican administrations. It is an important issue to Nevada and the nation and should not be a partisan one. '

It also bears mention that nuclear waste from weapons production and Navy ship reactors must be disposed of in the repository even if no spent fuel from commercial nuclear reactors ever existed.

BRIAN O'CONNELL
Director
Nuclear Waste Program Office
Washington, DC