We simply need Yucca

Abandon partisanship that's keeping nuclear waste facility closed

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Add Marvin Fertel’s name to the long list of people who support the Yucca Mountain project to store the nation’s nuclear waste.

Fertel, the president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, spoke at the Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness’ Edward Teller Lecture and Banquet in Aiken, S.C., last week.

“The country has already spent about $10 billion on Yucca, and we believe it could still be an ideal setting for waste,” Fertel said.

More than $10 billion, actually. But he’s right in assessing Yucca’s ideal circumstances for waste storage.

And if the government doesn’t move in earnest to establish Yucca as a permanent site, we’ll keep seeing nuclear waste temporarily stored all over the country – including at the CSRA’s own Savannah River Site.

A bit of background: Congress approved Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository way back in 2002. But in 2011, the Obama administration abruptly cut funding for the project – in a wrong decision that nearly everyone from the Government Accountability Office on down has described as purely political, without any grounding in safety or science. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission suspended licensing activities for Yucca that same year.

After two years of wrangling in the courts, it finally took a writ of mandamus to spur some forward motion on the issue. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the NRC in August to renew its review of the Department of Energy’s application to establish a repository at Yucca.

“While hard-working taxpayers have already invested $15 billion into the development of the Yucca Mountain Site in Nevada, this administration has continuously blocked efforts to move forward, simply because of a difference in political opinion,” U.S. Rep. Paul Broun Jr. said shortly after the ruling. “This instance of waste and delay is just another illustration of our out-of-control government, and it has got to stop.”

Broun and others from Georgia and South Carolina were among 81 members of the U.S. House of Representatives to urge NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane just last month to complete safety evaluation reports for Yucca, and use $11.1 million in its carryover waste funds to do it.

“It is our firm belief that completion of the (safety evaluation report) will settle the debate and provide scientific data confirming what we have known for many years – that Yucca Mountain is a safe location for a permanent repository,” the lawmakers said in their letter dated Sept. 27.

They can put that completed safety report on top of another mountain –the titanic summit of data that already proves the suitability of Yucca as a waste storage site. The title of one 2006 white paper conducted on Yucca even reflects how often it’s been examined: “Yucca Mountain: The Most Studied Real Estate on the Planet.”

That study supported all the other studies that gave the thumbs-up to Yucca. It also stressed the national security imperative of establishing a single, permanent repository for nuclear waste in the United States.

How safe would Yucca be? The Environmental Protection Agency once said waste stored at the proposed reinforced facility would give off public doses of radiation of just one millirem a year – for a million years. As a point of reference, average U.S. exposure to natural sources of radiation is estimated at 300 millirems a year.

As is stands now, however, nuclear waste is stored at more than 100 sites at nuclear facilities around the country. By one estimate, about 160 million Americans live within 75 miles of temporarily stored nuclear waste.

If our nation expects to be a responsible steward of nuclear power in a quest to become energy-independent, we simply need Yucca. Now.

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oldredneckman96 10/28/13 - 12:39 am
Yucca Mountain’s fate is that

Yucca Mountain’s fate is that Obama stole the bulk of the money the utilities had paid into the fund to build it under an agreement they had with the US government. It was a solution, not a good one, but a solution to the question of spent fuel. The better solution was to reprocess the used fuel, recycle it and reuse it. Carter stopped that plan when he was in office. France, a country that has not been to war for oil, has 80% of its energy derived from Nuclear power and recycles it’s used fuel. Democrats, who would have us common folk live in a grass hut and walk to work, know that nuclear power is clean safe and economical energy and a key to the middle class living a good life.

Riverman1 10/28/13 - 06:32 am
Finally Court Protects Nation From Obama Malfeasance

The Obama administration's decision to abandon Yucca was one of the most egregious examples of politics overriding the national interest ever. Obama appeased Harry Reid. Not only is SRS Yucca Mt. by default, but all the other sites around the country with nuclear waste sitting in deteriorating containers are too. This is one court decision that got it right in protecting the country from Obama's malfeasance.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 10/28/13 - 06:58 am
Follow the Money

How much did Harry Reid and his "friends" profit from Yucca Mountain?

deestafford 10/28/13 - 08:22 am
And someone is surprised because?

Anyone with wee bit of common sense saw this in Obama's genes when he was a candidate.

seenitB4 10/28/13 - 09:18 am
Billions Blown

I hate to say this but it will take a monumental collapse of safety for the USA to wake up.......probably a terror attack of some kind at our plants....like SRS......we are walking on thin ice just like Japan did before the flooded plants....a matter of time.

SCEagle Eye
SCEagle Eye 10/29/13 - 11:54 am
no spent fuel at SRS

No matter what happens with Yucca Mountain, the threat to SRS is the scheme by boosters to bring spent fuel here for "interim" storage. If no geologic dump goes forward, highly radioactive spent fuel could be stranded here. South Carolinians simply won't consent to this scheme. The motivation behind getting spent fuel here is reprocessing - a dirty, dangerous and expensive chemical reprocess to remove weapons-usable plutonium for which there is no use. Though EdF, the French electricity company, doesn't like reprocessing or MOX fuel, the state-owned company AREVA has manipulated resources to keep reprocessing going for now. France is barely drawing down its massive plutonium stockpile and uses only a small amount of the contaminated uranium separated by reprocessing. All other European countries have ended reprocessing contracts with AREVA. So, what's the great example that France presents for the US concerning spent fuel management? Not much.

KasparHauser 10/29/13 - 05:54 pm
Soooo, Let's Check the Informed Adults, FIRST...

Who to believe...

Nameless Editorial Staff at a paper in bed with a NIMBY obsession OR the President's Blue Ribbon Commission which deals with the above and refutes the unsubstantiated naked assertion?

One wonder what the Bagger Brotherhood that runs the Chronicle's Nameless Editorial Staff would think if a repository was "shoved down their throats" like Yucca was by all them brave Reagan Publicans in the 1980s, shortcutting the agreed upon protocol just because they could (and, possibly to avoid the second repository being sited in someone else's Eastern US backyard)?

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