Thursday, January 25, 2007

Yucca Mountain Must Be Opened Sooner

The Achilles heel of nuclear power is nuclear waste because opponents say there isn't a solution for it. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, spent fuel from commercial nuclear power plants can be reprocessed and reused. Global warming and smog are prevented using nuclear power and these are the most important environmental issues facing us today.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Energy says it cannot open the national repository for nuclear waste, Yucca Mountain in Nevada, until 2017. This is unacceptable. There is no good reason to take this long to get a permit to open the repository. We understand that litigation, objections from NIMBY Nevadans and funding funny business are impediments. There is also the matter of this being the home state of the new Senate majority leader. However, the stakes for the planet are simply too high for America to move slowly on this project. We must assure an adequate and dependable allocation of funding from the Nuclear Waste Fund to accelerate permitting and operation of the site.

We believe nuclear waste should be placed in an agency that has the sole function of managing nuclear waste. We are promoting the establishment of a Nuclear Waste Mangement Agency (NWMA) to centralize and accelerate the opening and operation of Yucca Mountain. We believe the facility could be operating no later than 2012. The NWMA would also manage reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. America should reprocess spent nuclear fuel at Yucca and other locations. The NWMA would give this important and challenging operation the singular attention needed to properly develop recycling and disposal of nuclear waste. Picture: AAEA President Norris McDonald at Yucca Mountain at five-mile tunnel exit.

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