|The Nuclear Waste Debate|
Senators Murkowski and Bryan
March 28, 1997
in this forum:
Why Nevada? Aren't communities who produce nuclear waste responsible? Does the nation need an interim site? Why can't the waste stay at the nuclear plant? Are you concerned about possible protests? How safe is it to transport waste across the country? How long should they plan on storing waste safely? SENATOR BRYAN: How would this bill impact the Nevada population? Additional Viewer Comments...
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A question from Robert Moore of Terre Haute, IN:
For high-level radioactive waste, a single waste site is probably a good idea. Hundreds or thousands of years from now it would be best to have spent nuclear fuel safely entombed in a central repository.
However, getting it all stored at a central spot now is not necessary. The nuclear power industry has been storing their material for 40+ years onsite ... and they could easily build more onsite storage if necessary.
Spent fuel should not be sent to an interim facility in Nevada at this time. The DOE is still studying the site to see if it's suitable. If it is not suitable that would mean moving all that material a second time (increasing the risks of an accident).
Senator Murkowski responds:
Thank you, Robert. I am glad you think central storage is a good idea. As you probably know, this is not a partisan issue in Congress.
Did you know S. 104 allows for an assessment of Yucca Mountain prior to opening up the Nevada Test Site for interim storage? The DOE says it will complete its assessment in mid to late 1998. After the assessment, the President will have 18 months to decide if he wants to stop progress on Yucca Mountain and the interim site, and chose another location. If, after two years, he and Congress have not designated another one, interim storage would proceed at the Nevada Test Site.
If Yucca Mountain is not chosen it could take at least 60 years before a permanent repository would open. Therefore an interim site would be even more necessary, unless one is willing to keep the materials at 80 locations in 41 states. Remember, places like the leaking facility at Brookhaven on Long Island were not built for long term storage.
Senator Bryan responds:
The Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (NWTRB) agrees that centralized interim storage of nuclear waste is not necessary. In a March 1996 report, the executive summary stated: "The Board sees no compelling technical or safety reason to move spent fuel to a centralized storage facility for the next few years. The methods now used to store spent fuel at reactor sites are safe and are likely to remain safe for decades to come. Despite some recent public opposition to utility efforts to develop additional storage, so far, utilities have been able to add new storage capacity at their sites when needed."
The NWTRB was established to provide independent technical review of the Department of Energy (DOE) handling of the multi-billion dollar project to store the nation's high level nuclear waste. Other NWTRB reports have raised concerns about the DOE compromising scientific analysis just to meet artificial deadlines.
There is simply no reason to rush forward with another ill-thought plan for storage of nuclear waste that is totally devoid of scientific reason and is all about pleasing the nuclear energy industry.