All News & Blogs
|Visit the Photo Place|
By RICK MERCIER
ITHOUGHT I DIDN'T really have to care about the plan to stash nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain. I mean, the place is all the way in Nevada, which might as well be Mars as far as most of us here in Virginia are concerned.
Then I found out some of the North Anna plant's Nevada-bound waste would be transported by rail through downtown Fredericksburg, a half-mile from where I work and less than a mile from where I live.
Suddenly, Yucca Mountain became a hot issue for me.
And it should be for lots of other people, too, because if the Senate approves the Bush administration's proposal for the Nevada site later this week, tens of millions of Americans--including nearly 600,000 Virginians--will be in my shoes: They'll be living or working within a mile of a possible nuclear-waste transport route. (To find out whether you live or work near a proposed route, visit www.map science.org.)
Oddly enough, the government hasn't demonstrated much concern over how to ship radioactive waste to a remote part of Nevada. "What I find most shocking about the Yucca Mountain project is that [the Department of Energy] has no plan to transport spent nuclear fuel to its proposed repository," Jim Hall, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, testified before Congress on May 23.
In fact, DOE is at least a year away from coming up with any detailed plan on how the waste shipments will get to Yucca Mountain, or how population centers along the routes might be affected, the Associated Press reports.
The Navy and a handful of utilities now ship about 60 loads of highly radioactive waste across short distances each year, according to the AP. But those shipments--dubbed "mobile Chernobyls" by critics of the Yucca Mountain project--would climb dramatically under the Bush plan, which would be implemented in 2010.
The Environmental Working Group says that some 619 radioactive shipments would cross Virginia alone over the 38-year life span of the project if the waste is moved mostly by rail; more than 7,000 shipments would traverse the state if the waste is shipped mostly by truck.