Recent “Community Viewpoints” these past two Friday’s in the Times reflect a myopic absolutism and mis-information about atomic power that has been characteristic of arguments against the Yucca Mountain repository for spent nuclear fuels (SNF’s).
Downplaying the ecological damage by Chernobyl and Fukushima detracts from the credibility of the Messrs. Gran and McCracken to plot a realistic future for nuclear fission and assess the risks of Yucca Mountain.
How electricity is to be generated and where to store SNF’s are two separate issues.
There are now many more fuel rods that need to be disposed of thanks to President Carter’s 1977 decision not to reprocess the waste. Yet it is Carter’s fellow Democrats led by Senator Reid who are most in denial about taking the last essential step for safely decommissioning over one hundred power plants around the country.
None of these plants were located with a view towards long-term geologic stability and a low water table for storing the rods onsite.
Rather it was proximity to a body of water for cooling their reactors, as well to barge in components for their construction.
So it is reckless for the Department of Energy to now propose either indefinite onsite storage, or shipping the SNF’s hither and yonder when nearly half the objections to the recent EIS filed by DOE concerned cross-country transportation of the SNF’s, not their final location.
Consider the Rancho Seco plant near Sacramento contracting with a firm in Texas to transport the SNF’s across Nevada and Utah for internment in a facility that cannot be as far above groundwater as Yucca Mountain.
Replicate this folly for over 100 reactors scattered around the country for an unimaginable security burden compared to what is needed to monitor shipments all headed to one single point.
Failure to complete the centralized repository is as much a calamity for the entire nation as it is a setback for Nye County.
Estimates for each utility to make their own arrangements range up to $250 billion for America’s ratepayers – several times more than what it would cost to have coordinated shipment via rail expanded to take all of the radioactive materials now going via truck through Pahrump into the Nevada Test Site.