Letter: Yucca Mountain
This is a follow-up to my open letter to Senator Frank Murkowski regarding his Bill S1287 and to his presentation to Congress on Feb. 8.
Senator, we need to remember the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 which originally called for two nuclear waste sites; one in the East and one in the West. In 1986, science no longer became an issue. The pressure of politics could be heard echoing in the halls of Congress, and the search for a site in the East was canceled.
The federal government located three possible sites in the west: Deaf Smith, Texas; Hanford, Wash. and Yucca Mountain. Again, political pressure left the federal government with Yucca Mountain and its current situation of making a commitment to the utilities to accept the nuclear waste by 1987.
To all the U.S. senators in Congress, you talk about penalties to the taxpayers and the costs to rate payers; do you realize that in the year 1982 the federal government had the opportunity to hold on to two sites until such time as it was actually proven which site would meet EPA requirements and they “blew it?”
Senator Murkowski, you refer to guidelines and such organizations as the International Commission on Radiological Protection that provides guidance on radiation protection to countries worldwide. Are you aware that the employers of approximately 10 members of this commission are mostly government funded agencies such as Oak Ridge National Laboratories and the Medical Research Council of Great Britain, also underwriting research and providing travel expenses and administrative assistance?
It has been estimated by David Sowby, the former commission secretary (now retired) that the ICRP gets at least $1.5 million worth of such aid each year.
Interestingly, some of the funding originates at the Department of Energy. Would you call the ICRP unbiased on an important issue such as radiation exposure standards? You consistently rave about the wonders of nuclear power and how clean it is as opposed to other sources of energy, but at what price? We have known since the 1940s at the start of the Manhattan project, the extreme dangers connected with nuclear power. We have accumulated nuclear waste for more than 50 years and will continue to do so, but in all that time, we have given very little funding into research for another source of power or how to handle nuclear waste.