It has been 29 years since the federal government passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, and since that time over $20 billion has been spent to construct the storage facility for 135,000 metric tons of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. The site is located on federal land in a remote stretch of desert some 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
This entire project to establish a repository for nuclear waste has been a highly debated political issue since it first started, and it has been an especially emotional issue in the State of Nevada. Since 1987 the City of Las Vegas has opposed Yucca Mountain, because the nuclear waste would be transported to the site through the Las Vegas Valley, and they opposed the site because it posed a danger from potential transit accidents. In fairness to the discussion it should be noted that when the project first started Las Vegas was a very small town, but has since become one of the fastest growing cities in the country with a huge increase in political influence.
During his Presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised his opposition in his effort to garner much needed Nevada votes, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has long opposed the Yucca Mountain site’s selection. Once elected to the Presidency, Obama eliminated funding for the project, and thus paid-off Senator Reid, and concerned voters of Nevada.
In looking into this subject I found a treasure trove of information, and I suggest that if interested you search Google’s numerous articles. This highly emotional issue has again resurfaced because of the recent tragic events in Japan, and the dangers that have developed from the exposure of high levels of radiation.
Your Commander believes that the transfer of domestic nuclear waste can be conducted safely, and securely. It is my opinion that we must not permit the waste of over $20 billion in already spent construction costs, and further absorb another $22 billion many utility companies have pre-paid the Department of Energy for their contracted storage facilities at Yucca Mountain.
Please read Allyn Milojevich’s “Closing Yucca Mountain a waste”, and note that he wrote it before the Japan nuclear incident.
Spent fuel rods are being stored at each nuclear facility across our country, and they should and must be placed in Yucca Mountain now. That action will prevent further wasteful spending by a politically paralyzed administration. This is a national safety issue, and the local scare tactics of Nevada politicians should not work against the safety and fiscal interests of the entire country. This is another sad example of a lack of leadership emanating from Washington on thorny issues that continue to work against the best interests of all Americans.
If President Obama wants to expand nuclear energy to off-set our dependence on imported oil, then we have to address the storage of an ever-expanding number of spent fuel rods. This is a decision that cannot be delayed because it is a political hot issue, but one that takes non-political leadership.