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Congress Should Block Nuclear Industry, Stop Yucca Mountain Nuclear Dump Plan

April 16, 2002

Congress Should Block Nuclear Industry, Stop Yucca Mountain Nuclear Dump Plan

Statement of Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook

We are here today because of the efforts of one very powerful and wealthy special interest lobby ? the nuclear industry. Its drive to push this ill-conceived and potentially catastrophic plan through the government as quickly as possible is based on an old premise that highway builders and other government contractors often rely on. That premise is that once a project as enormous as this gets going, it?s hard to stop. But Congress should stop the Yucca Mountain plan, and stop it now, before more investments are made.

The idea to put a nuclear dump at Yucca Mountain is phenomenally irresponsible. Yucca Mountain is located in a seismically active area. It lies atop a drinking water aquifer. Government scientists admit they cannot say whether or how nuclear waste would be safely contained. Nor can they guarantee that this waste could be transported safely. There are a host of unanswered questions, yet still, the industry is pressing ahead, and federal agencies are compliantly going along.

The Yucca Mountain plan calls for highly radioactive waste now stored at nuclear plants and government weapons facilities to be shipped by truck or train through 44 states and the District of Columbia. We?re talking about 100,000 shipments, possibly going through a neighborhood near you. What many lawmakers ignore is that no one is adequately prepared to deal with an accident or terrorist attack involving this deadly waste. Not police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians or communities. And certainly not the public.

The Department of Energy has a long record of investing in wasteful ventures that cost taxpayers billions. Yucca Mountain, if approved, would be another costly disaster to add to the list. It is time for Congress to put public safety over politics and pull the plug on Yucca Mountain. The nuclear industry should not be permitted to use campaign contributions and lobbying clout to buy disastrous public policy.

A vote by any member of Congress for the Yucca Mountain dump would be a vote for the reckless disregard of the public. Congress must decisively reject this foolhardy plan and start talking about real solutions to our nuclear waste problem.