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Keep an eye on transuranic shipments

Nevada Appeal editorial board

Here’s a word you can add to your vocabulary: transuranic.

You’ll be able to use it in everyday conversations, such as “Did you know they’re planning transuranic shipments through Tonopah?”

Sounds a lot better than “nuclear waste,” doesn’t it?

No matter what you call it, a plan to truck nuclear waste an extra 700 miles through rural Nevada on its way from the Nevada Test Site to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, N.M., carries a whiff of the absurd.

Start with the fact much of the waste stored at the Test Site originated with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory outside Oakland. Then with California’s insistence the waste not move along Route 127 through Death Valley. And finally with Clark County’s reluctance to allow the shipments to go through Las Vegas.

Thus the “compromise” in which the waste travels 1,800 miles — through Tonopah, Ely and Wendover — en route to New Mexico.

The folks in White Pine County didn’t think it was humorous. “We find it absurd that the (Department of Energy) would consider this,” said one.

The real issue, however, was best summed up by U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

“If they’re having all this trouble with transportation of low-level waste, what in the world is going to happen to high-level nuclear waste?” he wondered.

Reid was referring, of course, to the thousands of shipments of nuclear waste from all over the nation to the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain. The Energy Department is pushing ahead with designation of Yucca Mountain, with no discernible transportation plan in place.

Nevada doesn’t want nuclear waste. We suspect no one is going to want shipments going through their hometown, either. Who’s working on an alternative? Nobody.

We’ve come up with our own word: transmoronic.