Scientific investigation will determine Yucca’s suitability
The August 10 letter to the Pahrump Valley Times by Mr. Walt Grudzinski presents critical commentary about the Yucca Mountain project without a full appreciation of the actual situation. The Pahrump Nuclear Waste and Environmental Advisory Committee supports the Nye County Board of Commissioners in matters including nuclear waste disposal.
Members of this committee have worked on the Yucca Mountain Project (YMP), worked at and volunteered as environmental management advisers to the NNSS (formerly the Nevada Test Site). Members have commented on the YMP siting process throughout the years and have kept up to date on underground water levels and flows, either locally or regionally through constant interaction with the United States Geological Society (USGS).
It is important to first note that when a commissioner speaks about “letting the science speak for itself,” contrary to the implication of Mr. Grudzinski, it is a statement that clearly means that even though the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has found that the Yucca Mountain site is likely to meet regulatory requirements, it is important to complete the licensing hearings to give an opportunity for others to present dissenting views to be heard.
The congressionally-created Nuclear Regulatory Commission is an authoritative, independent, agency that was assigned responsibility to review and oversee the potential licensing of Yucca Mountain. That’s correct; no decision has been made to proceed with building the repository. That cannot happen until the Nuclear Regulatory Commission determines that there are no arguments contravening the case for the safety of a repository at Yucca Mountain.
Mr. Grudzinski makes a serious error in selecting a number of scientific parameters, selecting web pages that contain material that sounds as if it should be relevant, and concluding that the science of Yucca Mountain must pose a threat, in direct opposition to more than 30 years of scientific investigation overseen by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, presented in public meetings, and published in peer-reviewed journals. One cannot judge the suitability of a site for a repository by looking at single parameters – it is the behavior of the entire system taken together that must be assessed. Mr. Grudzinski errs in concluding that water in the Pahrump Valley would be at risk. The aquifer of the area in which Yucca Mountain is located is not connected to any water system in the Pahrump Valley. He further misses one of the most important attributes about a repository at Yucca Mountain – the repository would be located 1000 feet above the water table. That attribute was pointed out by the United States Geological Survey as one of the reasons Yucca Mountain could make the most suitable site.
Regarding waste containers made by the lowest bidder; yes, the procurements will be competitive. As they also are when bidding on building an aircraft carrier or jet aircraft for the government. What Mr. Grudzinski misses is that acceptance of a container for disposal will be subject to stringent requirements, again overseen by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Finally, the seismicity of Southern Nevada was recognized even before study of the site began. While the actual area of Yucca Mountain is relatively seismically quiet (see work by the Nevada Seismological Laboratory on Earthquakes in Nevada, 1840s – 2012), the demonstrations of the acceptability of the Yucca Mountain site assume the occurrence of a far larger earthquake that has ever occurred there based on geological evidence.
The Pahrump Nuclear Waste and Environmental Advisory Committee has followed the science of the Yucca Mountain project for years, attended public meetings, posed intelligent questions of the scientists, and relayed our views to the Board of County Commissioners.
The committee does not profess to be security and intelligence consultants as the author has identified himself, but possibly, might be considered intelligent consultants who live and work in our valley. We have followed the process to site the repository from pre-EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) to the present and believe we can address issues pertaining to the Yucca Mountain site in a logical, non-bias way.
Speaking for the entire committee,
John Pawlak and Mary Duff
Co-chairs, Pahrump Nuclear Waste and Environmental Advisory Committee
Reader confused by dates in county advertisement
I saw the advertisements in Friday’s (09-21-18) paper for vacancies in four different advisory committees and I seriously thought about applying for the “Veteran’s Committee” (I was in the U.S. Air Force for 32 years), but then I saw the applications had to be submitted by “Wednesday, September 25, 2018.”
With that I was confused because I couldn’t figure out whether to submit by September 25, 2018 which is Tuesday or by Wednesday, which is September 26, 2018.
I guess this is why things are so hard to get done in Pahrump — nobody can figure out when they are supposed to get done. Is this another sign of our county commissioners’ competency?