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Demonstrators at Capitol Protest Dangerous Nuclear Waste Transportation Plan

Feb. 14, 2002

Demonstrators at Capitol Protest Dangerous Nuclear Waste Transportation Plan

Lawmakers Are Urged to Reject Yucca Mountain Recommendation

WASHINGTON, D.C. ? Demonstrators gathered outside the Capitol building this morning to oppose a proposed nuclear waste dump and the cross-country nuclear shipments it would require. Representatives of national environmental, consumer advocacy and public interest groups joined members of Nevada?s congressional delegation to urge President Bush and Congress to abandon the Yucca Mountain Project.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham is expected to officially recommend to the president that a high-level nuclear waste repository be developed at Yucca Mountain, located 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas in Nevada. Bush likely will refer the recommendation to Congress. Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn has announced his intention to veto the project, but Congress could override Nevada?s objection. A vote by Congress is expected this spring.

“The proposal for a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain would send tens of thousands of radioactive waste trains and trucks through 44 states and the District of Columbia, putting millions of Americans at risk,” said Michael Mariotte, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS). “Each shipment of nuclear waste is a ?mobile Chernobyl,? an accident waiting to happen.” Today?s event took place against the backdrop of a full-sized model of a nuclear waste transportation cask painted with radiation symbols and a skull and crossbones.

Bruce Williams, Takoma Park, Md., City Council member and mayor pro tem, expressed concern about rail lines through Takoma Park that have been identified as likely transport routes for Yucca Mountain shipments. “The risks posed by nuclear waste shipments have been a concern in our community for the past 20 years. We are committed to keeping this dangerous cargo out of Takoma Park to protect the health and safety of residents,” Williams said. Takoma Park officials have designated the town a nuclear-free zone.

Participants in the rally held signs that read, “Stop atomic trains and trucks” and “No nuke waste trains through D.C.” A Valentine?s Day card to Bush was on display, urging the president to “have a heart” and reject the Yucca Mountain recommendation.

Speakers also raised concerns about the site itself.

“Yucca Mountain is in an earthquake zone,” said Anna Aurilio, legislative director of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. “The Department of Energy?s own scientists admit that if nuclear waste is buried at this location, radiation will eventually leak into the groundwater and contaminate the surrounding environment.”

Ann Mesnikoff, Washington representative of the Sierra Club?s Global Warming and Energy Program said, “Public health and the environment should not be sacrificed for the narrow economic interests of polluting energy industries. Congress should shelve the Yucca Mountain Project and invest in a clean energy future.”

Added Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen?s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program, “Secretary Abraham?s site recommendation lacks credibility, given that this administration?s energy policies have been seriously discredited by the inappropriate and secretive involvement of energy industry tycoons. We call upon Congress to oppose the Yucca Mountain Project to protect the integrity of government processes, as well as public health and safety.”