Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Obama Administration fails to lead on nuclear waste

Posted by sanityinjection on March 4, 2009

The WashPost reports today that the Obama Administration’s proposed budget for FY 2010 eliminates all funding for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada.

The Yucca Mountain project has been controversial since its inception in 1987. The goal of the project is to create a safe, permanent depository for the nation’s nuclear waste. There has been a lot of opposition from Nevadans and others who do not feel that the site will be sufficiently safe from leaks and contamination.

The problem I have isn’t so much with the Obama Administration abandoning the project after 20-plus years and billions of dollars already spent. The problem is that they are doing so without any substitute vision for how to handle the nation’s nuclear waste. This is of special concern because even prominent environmentalists are beginning to come forward and state that increased nuclear power must be a part of our nation’s strategy for reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

The whole point of Yucca Mountain was an acknowledgement of the environmentalists’ argument that it was irresponsible to move forward with nuclear power without a plan for the permanent handling of the radioactive spent fuel rods. The Yucca Mountain site was designed specifically to handle the 57,700 tons of nuclear waste currently sitting at dozens of temporary sites across America and the 2,000 tons generated every year. Regardless of the possible flaws in the Yucca Mountain plan, it is hard to see how implementing that plan would be worse than the current situation. It is also hard from the perspective of a layman to understand what other site could be chosen that would not give rise to similar concerns.

Scientists agree that the US is going to have to come up with a permanent storage solution. Until the Obama Administration is ready with an alternative proposal, I think it is irresponsible to kill the Yucca Mountain project, and constitutes a failure of leadership on an environmental issue of critical importance.


One Response to “Obama Administration fails to lead on nuclear waste”

  1. sanityinjection said

    Here’s more on the Administration’s decision to de-fund Yucca Mountain and the problem of what to do with it:

    In explaining their decision, the Administration cites “long-term safety risks, security concerns associated with shipping nuclear waste to the site, opposition by most Nevada leaders and the likelihood that the project would fall further behind schedule and cost billions more to complete.”

    Will someone please explain to me how any other site(s) are not going to face these exact same problems, with the additional setback of the delay in having to start all over again from scratch?

    It is moves like these that make one question whether the Obama Administration really knows what it’s doing, or whether they are just winging it. And that is an unsettling thought.

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