Nov. 18, 1998

DOE and Nuclear Industry Ignore Science and Law while Pushing Nuclear Dump

Statement of Auke Piersma
Energy Policy Analyst
Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy Project

Today, we have taken a politically difficult but necessary stand. The environmental and consumer community says NO to Yucca Mountain, Nevada., as the proposed repository for highly irradiated nuclear waste. While the site characterization of Yucca Mountain remains incomplete, the scientific evidence collected to date indicates that this mountain will leak deadly radionuclides, and that is not acceptable. Current DOE efforts to site this dump are an attempt to bypass sound science and ignore the health and safety of American citizens.

Next month the non-binding Viability Assessment will reportedly suggest that no showstoppers are foreseeable at Yucca Mountain. The discrepancy between our position and DOE's is simple: They will ignore the scientific evidence they do not like. We will not. You will not find the importance of chlorine tracers mentioned in this document, except maybe buried under thousands of pages in a technical appendix.

After DOE releases this propaganda, the nuclear industry will use it to pressure the administration and Congress to pass the intolerable nuclear waste bills expected to be considered in Congress next year. This legislation, vigorously opposed by environmentalists and organizations concerned about protecting the public health from exposure to radioactive materials, is an example of special interest domination in a political system driven by greed.

The question "What's your solution?" is probably on your mind. The fact is, the environmental community has no solution -- because no solution exists. The highly irradiated nuclear waste that is being churned out today at nuclear plants will remain deadly for over a million years. This waste is difficult to handle and contain for any significant period. We are not in the business of accepting disastrous solutions to wrenching problems. But we will continue to fight the industry's propaganda endorsing a false solution that will only make the problem grow worse. If you think the cleanup tasks of the Hanford nuclear reservation are expensive and difficult, I challenge you to contemplate digging up Yucca Mountain with at least 40,000 tons of leaking nuclear waste.