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232 Groups Urge Congress to Reject Nuclear Dump

Jan. 30, 2002

232 Groups Urge Congress to Reject Nuclear Dump

Letter Highlights Conflict of Interest

WASHINGTON, D.C. ? A broad coalition of environmental and public interest organizations delivered a letter to Congress today drawing attention to the flawed process that has characterized the Department of Energy?s (DOE) Yucca Mountain Project and urging lawmakers to reject the proposal for a high-level nuclear waste dump in Nevada.

The groups also distributed a November report by the DOE Inspector General, which uncovered conflicts of interest involving contractors on the Yucca Mountain Project. According to the report, the law firm Winston & Strawn was simultaneously employed as counsel to the DOE, working on the Yucca Mountain Project, and was registered as a member of and lobbyist for the Nuclear Energy Institute, the pro-repository nuclear industry trade group.

“Clearly, the DOE has failed to exercise necessary oversight of its contractors, resulting in an apparent pro-industry bias in the agency?s site characterization and site recommendation activities,” the groups wrote in the letter. “It would be irresponsible for Congress to allow the Yucca Mountain Project to continue without a thorough review of the causes and consequences of contractor conflict of interest that have recently been brought to light.”

The letter was endorsed by 22 national organizations, including the Sierra Club, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Indigenous Environmental Network. In addition, 210 regional, local and Native American groups from 50 states and the District of Columbia endorsed the letter. The letter and list of endorsing groups can be viewed online.

“Advocates for public health, safety and the environment agree that the Yucca Mountain Project is a disaster,” said Kevin Kamps, nuclear waste specialist with the Washington-based Nuclear Information and Resource Service, a signatory to the letter. “Far from solving the nuclear waste problem, this irresponsible project would introduce new risks to the state of Nevada and the 44 other states through which nuclear waste would be transported.”

Lisa Gue, policy analyst with the national consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, agreed. “An honest process would have shelved this dangerous proposal long ago,” she said. “In defense of responsible, accountable government, as well as public health and safety, we are joining with concerned citizens across the country in urging members of Congress to oppose the Yucca Mountain Project.”