Groups Praise Nevada?s Veto of Dangerous Nuclear Dump

ALLIANCE FOR NUCLEAR ACCOUNTABILITY – AMERICAN RIVERS – CLEAN WATER ACTION – EARTHJUSTICE – FRIENDS OF THE EARTH – NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL TRUST – NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL – NUCLEAR INFORMATION AND RESOURCE SERVICE – PHYSICIANS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY – PUBLIC CITIZEN – SIERRA CLUB – U.S. PUBLIC INTEREST RESEARCH GROUP – THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY – WOMEN’S ACTION FOR NEW DIRECTIONS

April 8, 2002

Groups Praise Nevada?s Veto of Dangerous Nuclear Dump

Congress Should Uphold Nevada?s Well-founded Objection, Groups Say

WASHINGTON, D.C. ? National public interest and environmental organizations today applauded Governor Kenny Guinn’s decision to officially reject a plan to store 77,000 tons of radioactive nuclear waste at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain and urged Congress to similarly reject the proposal.

“This issue concerns not only Nevada, but virtually the entire country,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen?s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program. “Roads, rails, and waterways in 44 states would become thoroughfares for dangerous radioactive waste shipments en route to Yucca Mountain. Elected leaders in other states should join Governor Guinn in opposing this unjustifiably risky project.”

The threats to public health and the environment at the repository site itself are equally concerning. Scientists have been unable to demonstrate that Yucca Mountain could effectively isolate waste throughout the time it remains dangerously radioactive. The site is in an earthquake zone and sits atop a source of drinking water.

“Regulators, eager to ?rubber stamp? this dangerous dump have downgraded environmental regulations and safety standards to allow the unsafe Yucca Mountain Project to move forward,” said Anna Aurilio, legislative director for U.S. Public Interest Research Group. “This will threaten the drinking water for future generations and sets a dangerous precedent that could outlast the current repository debate.”

“The Department of Energy is riding roughshod over the science” said Debbie Sease, legislative director of the Sierra Club. “Decisions on what to do with the most dangerous substance we have created must be grounded in science, not expedience.”

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham recommended the plan in February. Congress could override Nevada’s veto with a majority vote in both Houses. A vote is expected in the coming months.

Citizens groups across the country have consistently opposed the Yucca Mountain dump and the flawed process that has characterized the project. In 1998, when the Department of Energy announced proposed changes (since adopted by the Bush administration) to weaken repository siting guidelines, nearly 200 groups petitioned Energy Secretary Bill Richardson to disallow the rule change and disqualify the Yucca Mountain site. In January 2002, responding to revelations of unchecked conflicts of interest involving Department of Energy Yucca Mountain contractors, 232 groups from 50 states urged Congress to shelve the repository proposal. Last month, in response to Energy Secretary Abraham?s site recommendation, 16 national environmental organizations sent a joint letter to Congress advocating opposition to the Yucca Mountain dump.

“Yucca Mountain is a top priority of the major national environmental, consumer and safe energy organizations because of the potential harm to human health and the environment that this project poses,” said Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth. “We stand as one in urging Congress to uphold Governor Guinn?s veto.”

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