Commentary: There’s reality … and there’s our senators |

Commentary: There’s reality … and there’s our senators

Randi Thompson

Two weeks ago this paper ran a column on Yucca Mountain by Senators Reid and Ensign that stated “there are no waiting millions or billions of dollars in benefits for us to grab.”

We’ve received $500 million without even asking. Imagine if we had asked!

They argued that funding for Yucca was “blood money” that should not be used “for mortgaging our safety and our future.”

These and other erroneous emotional appeals are an affront to the over 60 percent of registered voters in Nevada who say the state should advocate for a research, recycling, and interim storage facility at Yucca.

There is not enough room here to correct the many fabrications in the editorial, but here a just a few of the blaring ones.

The Senators claim that “the project is dangerous.”

Currently, 161 million Americans live within 5 miles of a nuclear power plant that has on-site storage pools or cement casks holding spent fuel. There have been no reports of safety issues or radiation leakage at any of these 121 sites.

In a March 2009 article in Forbes Magazine, UC Berkeley physics professor Richard Mueller said that the radiation levels in Denver, which occur naturally, are higher than the levels that would be present at Yucca Mountain when it is operational.

Sorry, where’s the danger?

“The dump would not be a sustainable job creator,” they claim.

The project as currently planned would provide about 2,000 jobs until 2033. If we negotiated for a research and recycling facility we could likely add another 500 jobs for 10 years in construction and manufacturing; and another 500 in the operating of a recycling facility that would generate about 500 megawatts of power. Sounds pretty sustainable to me.

“The project is going away,” they pronounce.

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act is still the law of the land. Congress will have to adopt changes to that law. Considering 39 states have nuclear power plants, I’m betting we’d lose that fight. There is also no alternative to Yucca, and the government has a a legal obligation to take and dispose of used nuclear fuel. Failure to do so will result in over $11 billion in lawsuits from energy companies.

America needs nuclear power to meet growing energy demands, but until we address the spent fuel issue, we can’t build another power plant.

Nevada can play a prime role to meet our nation’s energy needs by building a regional fuel recycling facility. We are being offered a multibillion-dollar project in the most researched, arid, desolate region of the U.S. More than 30 years of studies have shown storage would be safe.

What other economic development opportunity is available that can bring $1.5 billion a year to Nevada?

• Randi Thompson owns As You Wish, a government and media relations firm.