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Bush Should Reject Energy Chief?s Recommendation on Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Dump

Jan. 10, 2001

Bush Should Reject Energy Chief?s Recommendation on Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Dump

Statement of Wenonah Hauter, Director, Public Citizen?s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham has shown a reckless disregard for public health and the environment in announcing his intention to recommend that a nuclear waste dump be created at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. After years of study and billions of dollars, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has not been able to demonstrate that the proposed repository could safely contain nuclear waste for the quarter million years that it will remain dangerously radioactive. As recently as Dec. 21, the General Accounting Office concluded that a site recommendation at this time would be premature. The truth is that Yucca Mountain is not a suitable site for a nuclear waste dump and the repository project itself is fatally flawed.

Secretary?s Abraham?s irresponsible assertions that the proposed repository would address national security concerns are inaccurate and do not obviate the project?s dangerous deficiencies. Far from consolidating this country?s nuclear waste problem, the proposed repository would create an additional contaminated site. Because of statutory capacity limits, a Yucca Mountain repository could not contain all the high-level nuclear waste projected to be generated by U.S. nuclear reactor. Further, high-level nuclear waste will continue to be stored onsite at each operating reactor, even if a repository is established.

The prospect of transporting nuclear waste across the country to Nevada raises additional security and safety concerns. Routing projections indicate that nuclear shipments could pass through as many as 45 states en route to Yucca Mountain, endangering millions of Americans who live near interstate highways and railroads.

Secretary Abraham?s decision to withhold the project?s environmental impact statement and other key documents on which the recommendation was based undermines democracy. The concerns of thousands of concerned citizens who participated in comment periods and DOE hearings have yet to be addressed. We urge President Bush to reject Secretary Abraham?s pending site recommendation and immediately discontinue the Yucca Mountain project.