Monday, December 13, 2004

Will Reid Stall Yucca Mountain?

This article makes an important point about new minority leader Harry Reid (D-NV): he's firmly opposed to the siting of a national nuclear-waste dump at Yucca Mountain, which has cast the future of the project into uncertainty.

A portion of the staggering amount of radioactive waste at the Hanford, Washington site - which I discussed earlier here - is earmarked for shipment to Yucca Mountain circa 2010. Amazingly enough, the intent is to build a 300-mile rail line to the dump site, which would immediately become one of the country's most attractive terrorist targets. The alternative is to ship the material by truck. Both methods are supremely vulnerable to accidents and attacks. As this article notes,

Government planners say they need definitive answers to begin plotting transportation routes from Hanford and other sites to a national repository.

There has been no decision on whether the material will travel by truck or train. Either way, most observers agree an accident would be a national catastrophe.
Disposal problems, by the way, represent a variable cost of nuclear energy, which does not get factored into its price. I mention this in light of attempts by the industry to position itself as a "cheap" and "green" solution to global warming.


Anonymous said...


We are indeed kindred spirits.

I've been alerting people to this issue, whenever I can, until they're tired of hearing it. Ever since I saw the route for waste disposal by truck in San Antonio, I F-R-E-A-K-E-D. For one thing, it runs less than a mile from my humble abode. But my other concerns were these:

My home happens to be just on the other side of an elementary school a junior high school and a high school. Just a bit up the road is a major university (UTSA). Thousands upon thousands of young people and teachers are at risk if an accident happens near there.

This route also has some of the busiest business and shopping areas of NW San Antonio. A theme park is less than a mile from the route, along with major resorts, hotels and golf courses. Again, thousands of people at risk.

The disposal route runs through a sizeable chunk of the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. The Edwards Aquifer supplies most of our drinking water here in San Antonio. Imagine a spill happening there. Millions of people would have no safe drinking water. A nearby creek feeds into several other bodies of water here when it rains, so, if it has enough water in it, the poison could conceivably run all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, poisoning everything in its path. Isn't that a lovely thought?

It doesn't get better for rail. The rail line is just on the other side of my house. The schools and the Aquifer recharge zone are in between the rail line and the truck route. So are most of the shopping centers and hotels. The college and theme park are still within the range of being at ground zero, so to speak. So they're all still fucked.

To make matters worse, San Antonio has had a rash of train accidents this year--At least five, one of them a hazardous chemical spill that killed a few people (I don't have the exact counts handy right now). The train system here is already a mess, and they want to haul nuclear waste over that same route?

To me, the price is too high in human and environmental terms to continue pursuing nuclear energy. Right now, there really is no truly safe way to store this stuff, much less transport it. Even if these nuke companies were willing to spend the money to create safe enough containers, etc., none of them could afford it. But they wouldn't spend the money if they had it. That's what really pisses me off. They know this--they know it's not safe--they know they wouldn't spend the money on safety, and they don't care. All they care about is $$$$$$$ in their own pockets, and the hell with the rest of us, never mind the environment.


Anonymous said...

LJ, I didn't read your post but I found its length disturbing.