Yucca Plan Poses "Grave" Risk

USA Today Op. Ed. -- March 17, 2009
By Harry Reid and John Ensign
We applaud President Obama's bold decision to scale back the budget for the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump. Permanently ending the project is right not just for our state but for our entire country.
The peril of storing 70,000 tons of the nation's toxic trash just an hour's drive from Las Vegas rightly worries Nevadans, and all Americans would face a grave threat from this bad idea.
The reasons for ending the taxpayer boondoggle are plentiful: supporting data that relies on flawed science; estimated costs of nearly $100 billion; and the egregious error of burying waste that could, with American innovation, be less dangerous and even be turned into energy.
The Department of Energy's plan to store deadly nuclear waste at Yucca ignores even the most glaring facts, such as the major earthquake fault lines running across the storage site. Many Americans are unaware that DOE concedes that water will flow through the dump, eventually carrying radiation into Nevada's groundwater.
Yucca Mountain, simply put, is bad policy that is wrong for America.
America still needs a scientifically sound and responsible policy to deal with nuclear waste. More taxpayer money dumped into the Yucca Mountain project is more money wasted that could have been invested in securing waste on nuclear plant sites in dry casks, while researching new technologies such as reprocessing. There are solutions.
That is why we are working together and with our colleagues on bipartisan legislation to form a commission exploring alternative approaches. The Obama administration and the nuclear energy industry have expressed support for reviewing our nation's approach to nuclear waste so we will no longer be stuck with the current failed policy.
Forming such a commission would be only a first step away from Yucca Mountain. It's an important and necessary step, though. The effort will require input not only from our nation's foremost authorities on nuclear energy and nuclear waste, but also from policymakers, environmental experts and public health and safety advocates.
The time is now to put Yucca Mountain to rest and work together to deal with nuclear waste concerns while also protecting the health, safety and security of all Americans. We look forward to working with President Obama and all stakeholders in resolving our country's nuclear waste issues.