|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 Mary Olson of Washington, D.C.:
Questions to Senator Bryan:
Nevadans are already exposed to radiation from the nuclear weapons testing activities that were conducted in the State. Is there a reason to be concerned that this may make the people in Nevada even more vulnerable to radiation that would come from nuclear waste transport and storage/disposal at Yucca Mountain? What about the impacts on the Native Americans in the area?
Senator Bryan responds:
The Murkowski bill that will be before us in April once again substitutes politics and expediency for science. It establishes by legislative fiat, rather then scientific evaluation, radiation release standards for the storage site. The proposed radiation release amounts for Nevada are higher than those recommended by the National Academy of Science (NAS) and higher than those that are likely to be recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The bill contemplates a far higher amount of acceptable radioactive release for Nevada than the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico which is set at 15 mrem/year and higher or the EPA-determined Safe Drinking Water Act standards of 4 mrem/year. The standard for Nevada would be 100 mrem/year.
Sponsors of the bill like to claim that Nevada is the perfect place for a nuclear dumping ground because the Nevada Test Site was used for several decades for nuclear weapons testing. Despite these years of above and below ground weapons testing, the current radioactive contamination of the Test Site pales in comparison to the amount of radiation contained in the nuclear utilities' high level waste.
Putting the Nation's nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain will not only affect the citizens of the State of Nevada, it will affect more than twenty Tribal nations. Many of these groups have traditionally used this area and several Tribes have held religious activities at Yucca Mountain; it is considered a sacred site by the Western Shoshone Nation, the Timbisha Shoshone and others.
Many of these tribes will also be directly affected by the transportation of radioactive waste to the site. In fact, there are dozens of Native American communities in other states along the projected waste transport routes that will also be affected by sending high-level nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain.