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Arizona High School Student Visits Washington, D.C. to Urge Opposition to Yucca Mountain Nuclear Dump

June 6, 2002

Arizona High School Student Visits Washington, D.C. to Urge Opposition to Yucca Mountain Nuclear Dump

School Project on Nuclear Waste Transport Alerts Ninth-Grade Class to Dangers of Yucca Mountain Proposal

WASHINGTON, D.C. ? Fifteen-year-old Arizona resident Alex Ozuna visited Washington, D.C., today to explain to senators and public interest and environmental organizations that an accident involving nuclear waste being trucked to Yucca Mountain could devastate the Colorado River, near his hometown.

The conclusion was the result of a school project by Ozuna?s ninth-grade class at Mohave Accelerated Learning Center Public Charter School in Bullhead City, Ariz. Ozuna, who traveled to Washington on behalf of his class, delivered a letter to the office of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) urging him to oppose a proposed nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

Ozuna also met with McCain?s staff members to express his concerns over the risks involved in shipping high-level nuclear waste across the country to Nevada. Proposed transportation routes to Yucca Mountain would pass through his hometown.

“I think it’s really dangerous to have trucks carrying this waste passing through our towns and cities because it affects so many people,” Ozuna said. “I really hope Senator McCain considers all of us when he makes his decision on Yucca Mountain. People in my town are really scared about the Yucca Mountain dump. At first they didn’t think about the transportation risks involved, but once we explained it them, they realized how dangerous it was for them, their children and the environment.”

The students in Ozuna?s class built a model depicting theoretical results of a tractor-trailer carrying nuclear waste crashing on the Laughlin Bridge over the Colorado River. The bridge links Ozuna?s hometown of Bullhead City to Laughlin, Nev., a city through which waste also would pass en route to Yucca Mountain. The class concluded that if four tons of waste leaked into the river, it would contaminate a 42-mile radius of the river and surrounding land. The students also found that the town was ill-equipped to deal with such a disaster.

“We only have a small hazardous waste team in our town, so if a big disaster like this were to happen, we’d have to wait for crews from Las Vegas or Phoenix to arrive,” Ozuna said.

Also on Thursday, Ozuna joined Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and John Ensign (R-Nev.) for a breakfast meeting to share the findings of his project.

The controversial Yucca Mountain proposal calls for 77,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste from nuclear facilities throughout the country to be shipped through 44 states and the District of Columbia to Nevada. In addition to concerns about the dangers of transporting waste, problems exist with the site. For instance, it sits above a drinking water aquifer and lies in a zone prone to earthquakes.

On Wednesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved by a 13-10 vote a resolution in favor of the Yucca Mountain plan. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) voted in favor of the dump. The full Senate is expected to take up the issue in the coming weeks.