Monday, March 21, 2011

Fukushima Disaster Demonstrates Need For Yucca Mountain


By Norris McDonald

Norris McDonald at Yucca Mountain
The tsunami that created the disaster at the Fukushami Daiimi nuclear power station demonstrates the need for Yucca Mountain as the repository for America's nuclear waste.  I toured the Yucca Mountain repository in 2002 and it is the perfect place to store, retrieve and reprocess (recycle) America's nuclear waste. If spent nuclear fuel would be deposited at this repository, it would significantly reduce the sort of vulnerability that ended up becoming a disaster for Japan.

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 established Yucca Mountain as the repository for nuclear waste.  If Japan had such a repository, the disaster would not have been nearly as bad because the spent nuclear waste pools would be empty.  America needs to empty its spent nuclear reactor fuel at such pools at reactor sites around the country.

Unfortunately, although expressing pronuclear positions on the front end in terms of loan guarantees, the Obama administration is constipating the process by opposing Yucca Mountain.  That was a political decision to protect Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Fine.  Reid has been reelected.  Now we need that site.  It is in the national interest, which trumps Reid's political career. 

Unfortunately, NRC Chairman Jaczko is a former Reid staffer and is philosophically opposed to Yucca.  I met Jaczko in the Senate and, well, let's just say that he is not that approachable.  Whereas, other NRC commissioners are approachable.  Get a clue Jaczk, and be nice to the public.

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