Let me correct some confusion in your report on Hanford. The Fast Flux Test Facility is a sodium-cooled research reactor that began operating in the '70's and has been on "stand-by" status (costing taxpayers about 40 million a year). The battle to close it has been ongoing for 12 years. It is a whole different reactor than the former WPPS (whoops), now Energy Northwest Nuclear Power Plant which also sits on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and provides the Northwest with some amount of power. People, including former Mayor Neil Goldschmit are doing a million dollar study to look at the feasibility of "un-mothballing" WPPS 2, which was partly constructed and then stopped, leaving the taxpayers holding the debt from that debacle.
There are a number of people in the Tri-Cities area who are resuming a campaign to convince Bush to change Abraham's recent decision to shut down the FFTF. These citizens want to produce medical isotopes for cancer research and treatments. Yesterday they even mentioned having it simultaneously be used to convert plutonium wastes to fuel to use for energy. This process is known as MOX (mix oxide fuel) and creates more of the same wastes while it supposedly puts plutonium waste to use. If this mission was to become part of the operation of the FFTF, we would see more transport of lethal nuclear wastes crisscrossing our highways on the way to Hanford.
These wastes will be lethal for hundreds of thousands of years. We have no viable plan that deals with the wastes. Yucca Mountain, Nevada, the government's choice for a nuclear waste respository (which would only hold a small percent of all the wastes from nuclear power plants, let alone nuclear weapons' wastes) is a losing proposition due to poor geological choice, a strong fight from Nevadans, nefarious politics,and bad science.
It is important not to confuse issues in the fight for sane
debate and hopefully, ensuing sane public policies! This can seem like an overly complex issue which is what the nuclear industry wants to keep us at bay. I hope we of Hanford Watch can make the issues understandable. There is no need to be overwhelmed, because that leads many to feel defeated and hopeless. We cannot afford that since the legacy left by nuclear wastes affects us now and for millions of years hence.
Paige Knight, President, Hanford Watch (www.hanfordwatch.org)