Nuclear waste must find safe, permanent home in Nevada

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As I watched the Republican presidential candidate debate Oct. 18, I was startled to hear candidates jump at the opportunity to agree with President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on shutting down the nuclear waste
repository at Yucca Mountain.

WHILE MANY of these candidates are running on platforms aimed to reduce the deficit and increase jobs, the termination of Yucca Mountain will do just the opposite.

The president’s decision to withdraw the license application for Yucca Mountain wastes more than $10 billion already spent, of which $1.2 billion came from South Carolinian ratepayers. Further delay also subjects U.S. taxpayers to a financial liability currently estimated at $15 billion. With these further delays, the total liability is projected to be well over $50 billion.

Local communities in Nevada have voiced their support for Yucca Mountain. It would provide much-needed jobs. It is estimated that up to 5,000 jobs would be associated with the project, and more than 2,000 jobs created during the 150-year operating life of the project.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was the closest to getting the issue right. However, even he stated Nevada should be compensated for playing host to the repository, as though jobs and investment in the state of Nevada are not enough.

IT IS IMPERATIVE for the United States to have a permanent nuclear storage and disposal facility. Spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants and defense facilities cannot be stored at existing sites indefinitely. The decision to terminate Yucca Mountain condemns storage of spent nuclear fuel and high-level wastes at approximately 121 sites in 39 states, including multiple locations in South Carolina.

High-level nuclear waste from the U.S. nuclear weapons complex currently resides at 16 sites in 13 states, including the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, and totals 7,000 metric tons. The waste will remain on the surface adjacent to rivers, lakes and population centers rather than in a deep geological repository at a remote, arid, federally-controlled site. This is an extremely important matter not only for the communities I represent and the state of South Carolina, but for the nation.

If the Republican candidates are to be taken seriously about energy issues and reducing our dependency on foreign oil from hostile nations, then nuclear power must be a piece of the strategy. Without a safe and secure location such as Yucca Mountain, nuclear energy development in America cannot progress. Nuclear energy has provided more than half of our electricity in South Carolina for more than 30 years. It is a clean, safe and cost-effective energy source. But to keep it safe, we must have a permanent site to dispose of the waste.

WHEN THE president ran for office in 2008, he promised to take politics out of science. It is evident his decision to withdraw the license application for Yucca Mountain was based on politics, not science. It is unfortunate the Republican candidates are playing politics, too. I urge them to reverse course on this critical national issue.

I encourage my fellow voters in South Carolina to raise this issue with the Republican candidates and to hold them accountable for a permanent nuclear repository at Yucca Mountain if elected.

(The writer has represented South Carolina’s District 2 in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2001.)

Comments (9) Add comment
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Riverman1
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Riverman1 11/06/11 - 06:08 am
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I was surprised by the

I was surprised by the candidates comments during the debate, but keep in mind it was held in Las Vegas. They had to play to the crowd to a degree. If Yucca Mt is not opened soon the CSRA had better start demanding the compensation Gingrich talked about because it will have become Yucca Mt. by default.

SCEagle Eye
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SCEagle Eye 11/06/11 - 08:47 am
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Be aware that Rep. Wilson

Be aware that Rep. Wilson supports reprocessing of spent fuel, which the plutonium industry intentionally mislabels as "recycling," at the Savannah River Site. Bringing such highly radioactive waste here to be separated into a host of waste streams, many of which would be dumped on site and discharged into the atmosphere, would make us the de facto Yucca Mountain. Does Wilson and other plutonium advocates need Yucca Mountain as a way to make the deceptive claim that the nation's spent fuel brought here for "interim" storage and reprocessing will have "a way out of South Carolina" or does he seriously want existing waste to be removed? I think it's more the former & there will be wide-spread opposition if he and others try to again push reprocessing on South Carolina. A fully built reprocessing plant at Barnwell was stopped from operating in the 1970s and history may well repeat itself.

SteveMic
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SteveMic 11/06/11 - 01:06 pm
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I agree with Riverman. No

I agree with Riverman. No candidate in his or her right mind would ever say full steam ahead on Yucca Mountain while speaking on the campaign trail in Clark County, NV. It's a different matter anywhere else in the state, or the country for that matter. A Republican president could easily be convinced by a Republican Senate (the current Republican House is already on board favoring Yucca Mountain) to restore funding for this nuclear waste storage project. Furthermore, the courts have yet to rule on whether or not the cancellation of the project was even legal. This is definitely a "stay tuned" issue.

Ted1
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Ted1 11/06/11 - 03:48 pm
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Mr Wilson, Please take

Mr Wilson,
Please take some time to learn all the facts surrounding the history of the Yucca Mountain Repository as it pertains to politics, science and the arrogance of United States Government. You will better understand how the candidates arrived at their answers. Your laziness is inexcusable. The citizens of SC deserve better representation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omMIEQl7p5U

This writer is a US citizen and has lived in Nevada since 1993.

Ted T
Henderson, NV.

Radwaste
404
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Radwaste 11/06/11 - 06:17 pm
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"Bringing such highly

"Bringing such highly radioactive waste here to be separated into a host of waste streams, many of which would be dumped on site and discharged into the atmosphere, would make us the de facto Yucca Mountain."

Well, you've just shown you haven't the foggiest idea how waste is processed, and you're fearmongering.

-----

In other news, please, everyone, look up Yucca Mountain in Google Earth, and check the vicinity, just in case you speak to someone who thinks it's an ecological preserve or something.

SCEagle Eye
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SCEagle Eye 11/07/11 - 10:01 am
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If you like the 38 million

If you like the 38 million gallons of liquid high-level waste in aging tanks at SRS, then you'll love reprocessing of commercial spent fuel. The amount of current waste from historric production of weapons plutonium at SRS will pale in comparison to the amount of waste from reprocessing of spent fuel.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 11/07/11 - 10:17 am
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Yeah, but if the Congress

Yeah, but if the Congress follows my suggestion, the commercial fuel reprocessing plant will be in Nevada and not in South Carolina.

SCEagle Eye
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SCEagle Eye 11/09/11 - 10:07 am
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Check out the response to

Check out the response to Wilson's op-ed from the Las Vegas Sun on November 9. Nailed! (To repeat - Joe, your sneaky plans to make SRS a spent fuel dump to aid reprocessing boosters won't be accepted by South Carolinians.)

http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2011/nov/09/congressmans-claims-about-yu...

SCEagle Eye
910
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SCEagle Eye 11/09/11 - 10:21 am
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Check out the Las Vegas Sun

Check out the Las Vegas Sun editorial of November 9 - "Congressman’s claims about Yucca Mountain nothing but rubbish." Rep. Wilson get flattened like a possum in the middle of the road. (PS - We won't let Joe and his buddies make SRS a spent fuel dump and reprocessing mess.)

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