The sounds of science | NevadaAppeal.com

The sounds of science

Nevada Appeal editorial board

It was, perhaps, an unwinnable fight. But it was an important one for Nevada.

And Nevada should by no means give up its fight against nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain, despite Tuesday’s loss in the U.S. Senate.

If nothing else, the Senate’s 60-39 vote moves the Yucca Mountain debate out of the political realm and back into the scientific and legal arena, where the odds appear to be better for the state.

Senators Harry Reid and John Ensign cannot be faulted for their effort in attempting to swing votes against the flawed proposal to ship the nation’s radioactive waste to the Nevada desert.

The political realities were never more apparent than on Monday, when Republican senators Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett of Utah cut a deal with President George Bush to keep nuclear waste out of a proposed private storage site on an Indian reservation in Skull Valley, Utah.

Apparently, Hatch and Bennett were two of the few people in Utah — which, like Nevada, produces no nuclear waste — who didn’t see the advantages of Western states hanging together to keep the Eastern states from dumping their waste here. (Only four of the 64 nuclear plants operating in the United States are in Western states.)

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The Utah senators paid lip service to the transportation issue, but that’s about all. By their actions, though, they pretty much guaranteed nuclear shipments will be passing through their state on its way to Nevada, if the Yucca Mountain storage bunker indeed is built.

The hope for Nevada now becomes the hurdles faced by the U.S. Department of Energy to get the facility licensed. As has been noted here before, there are plenty of significant scientific defects in the Yucca plan. The General Accounting Office found 293 questions yet to be answered.

So there is a good chance “sound science” will yet prevail — not, as has apparently been the case with DOE research so far, merely the sounds of science.