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Activists, Legislators Urge Congress to Reject Fatally Flawed Yucca Mountain Nuclear Dump

May 7, 2002

Activists, Legislators Urge Congress to Reject Fatally Flawed Yucca Mountain Nuclear Dump

WASHINGTON, D.C. – National environmental, public interest, taxpayer and consumer groups joined members of Congress at a press conference today to discuss the importance of the upcoming vote on the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository and urge lawmakers to reject the dangerous plan. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote Wednesday on the repository (H.J. Res. 87).

“Stopping Yucca is a huge priority for the major national environmental, consumer and safe energy organizations because of the grave threat to public health and the environment that this project poses,” said Debbie Sease, legislative director of the Sierra Club.

Added Jill Lancelot, legislative director at Taxpayers for Common Sense, “The Yucca Mountain proposal is a bad solution to a very real problem. Support of Yucca is a roadblock to finding a cost-effective solution to the nation?s nuclear waste problem.”

Speakers raised concerns about the safety of transporting nuclear waste through 44 states and the District of Columbia to the Nevada facility.

“A crash involving just one of these deadly shipments could be catastrophic,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen?s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program. “This is an unnecessary risk that should not be imposed on communities along the nation?s roads and rails.”

Added Robert K. Musil, Ph.D., P.H., executive director and CEO of Physicians for Social Responsibility, “Even without an accident, transporting nuclear waste poses health threats. Each transport is like a portable X-ray machine that cannot be turned off. We are asking Congress to put the safety and health of the American people ahead of the interests of the nuclear industry.”

The groups also questioned the suitability of the Yucca Mountain site.

Environmental and public interest groups, as well as the state of Nevada, have charged that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) illegally manipulated standards for protecting groundwater around the site from radioactive contamination. They want the EPA to rewrite the groundwater standards it established specifically for Yucca Mountain.

“Everyone knows Yucca Mountain leaks like a sieve,” said Alys Campaigne, legislative director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “EPA has committed outright scientific fraud in constructing its drinking water compliance boundary around the Yucca Mountain site. The agency?s proposal will permit a radioactive septic field in a region that relies solely on groundwater for drinking water and irrigation.”

Added Deb Callahan, League of Conservation Voters president, “Storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain is an issue that raises more questions than answers, but two things are certain: It?s neither smart policy nor smart politics. Candidates in 350 congressional districts this fall will have to tell voters whether they are willing to risk their communities by allowing thousands of tons of dangerous nuclear waste on their highways and rail lines.”

U.S. Reps. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.), and Jim McDermott (D-Nev.) spoke at the press conference.

League of Conservation Voters, Public Citizen and U.S. PIRG track lawmakers? voting records on environmental/public interest scorecards.