Tags: Bush | OKs | Yucca | Mountain | Nuclear | Waste | Site

Bush OKs Yucca Mountain as Nuclear Waste Site

Friday, 15 February 2002 12:00 AM

In a letter to the president Thursday, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said he was convinced that "sound science" supports the Yucca Mountain site as a suitable place for the development of a deep, underground repository.

He said he was confident the site would pose no adverse effects on public health or safety and said he considered "compelling" national security interests in making his recommendation.

Right now, nuclear waste is stored in temporary surface storage facilities located at 131 sites in 39 states, according to the Department of Energy.

Abraham said that poses a big problem. "More than 161 million people live within 75 miles of one or more of these sites," he wrote in his letter to Bush.

"The facilities housing these materials were intended to do so on a temporary basis. They should be able to withstand current terrorist threats, but that may not remain the case in the future. These materials would be far better secured in a deep, underground repository at Yucca Mountain."

Yucca Mountain, on federal land about 90 miles north of Las Vegas, would be the permanent burial site of thousands of tons of radioactive nuclear waste, if the plan moves forward.

Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, applauded the president's decision, saying the Energy Department and the president "reached their decision using sound and objective science that must guide all policy makers through each step of this project."

"Now, more than ever, the case for the Yucca Mountain is clear," Murkowski said.

"Nuclear waste is best kept in a secure, central facility where we can concentrate all of our resources on storing it safely. Without such a repository, waste today is instead kept at sites scattered across the country, in the midst of our communities, and on the shores of the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Hudson River," he added.

Murkowski said storing waste at a single location is not only "prudent," it was a promise the federal government made over a decade ago "to almost every family who pays an electricity bill." The federal government is finally keeping its promise, he said.

But Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., said the president has been misled.

"Clearly, the president has been misled by the Department of Energy. The president relied upon the scientific information presented by the DOE, which for years has rushed headlong towards approving Yucca Mountain," Gibbons said in a statement on Capitol Hill.

"Unfortunately, the DOE continues to ignore the serious concerns and criticisms leveled by independent scientists and experts," he added.

Gibbons vowed to fight the action in Congress.

"The Nevada delegation will stand united and continue to fight this battle for the good of Nevada and the country," he pledged.

"This fight will continue in the public arena, in the courtroom and in Congress, where Nevadans will depend upon Mr. [Senate Democrat leader] Daschle's assurance that in the Senate the Yucca Mountain issue is dead," Gibbons concluded.

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In a letter to the president Thursday, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said he was convinced that sound science supports the Yucca Mountain site as a suitable place for the development of a deep, underground repository. He said he was confident the site would pose no...
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2002-00-15
Friday, 15 February 2002 12:00 AM
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