Do country service and open Yucca
April 11, 2017
Last week I was in Carson City to attend a legislative hearing on a bill pertaining to education. While we were waiting for the hearing to begin, a woman was going about the room showing a picture taken in 1951 from Las Vegas showing in the distance a mushroom cloud from a nuclear test blast.
She was telling whoever would listen how radioactive dust and debris can still be found in the desert, trying to associate that with her perception of dangers posed by opening Yucca Mountain for storage and processing of I didn't engage her in discussion. I could have pointed out the irony of her argument, though. That was then and this is now, and while the contamination left by the tests is real, the work that could be done at Yucca would help make the country safer.
Waste from nuclear power plants around the country continues to pile up, with no safe place to store it. Yucca was designed to take care of that and many scientists believe it could. The problem is that people, like the woman, from nine of Nevada's 17 counties have offered resolutions supporting the completion of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's review of Yucca's license application including one from Nye County, where Yucca is situated, and two from our own Churchill County (in 2011 and 2013).
Chuck Muth's recent column in the Lahontan Valley News pointed out benefits for opening Yucca, such as bringing jobs to Nevada — high-paying, highly technical jobs — and tons of money from states happy to pay for a place to store their nuclear waste.
Waste from nuclear power plants around the country continues to pile up, with no safe place to store it. Yucca was designed to take care of that and many scientists believe it could.
All this for being the good guy and showing the rest of the country that southern Nevada can be more than a mecca for pleasure-seekers, a haven for illegal aliens and a reservoir of low-information voters.
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Many of our establishment politicians are against the idea, no doubt thinking the political wind is blowing in that direction, but surveys have shown that once people are informed of the safety measures built into Yucca they change their stand. Maybe it's time for a town hall meeting in Fallon to spread the truth about Yucca.
Churchill School District teacher Steve Johnson, a few years ago, had his advanced placement class survey local people in selected fields to learn where they stand on opening Yucca. The initial poll showed 53-47 percent against. A second poll of the same respondents after they had been given more information on the idea resulted in 58-42 percent in favor.
Over the past 50 or so years, I'm sure more than a million Navy men and women have served on nuclear-powered ships. I've been on a couple of them myself, but I haven't heard of a single case of nuclear contamination.
The fear of transporting the waste through inhabited communities is another bugaboo. It has been going on for some 50 years without a single reported mishap, while hardly a month goes by without a train running off the track and doing serious damage, like setting a town on fire.
Let's open Yucca, do our country a great service and reap the benefits.
Jim Falk is a Fallon resident. His comments are of the author.