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Senate Committee to vote on Yucca Mountain Radioactive storage site Wednesday

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee plans to tackle legislation (S J Res 34) this Wednesday that would overturn Nevada's veto of the use of Yucca Mountain as the nation's nuclear waste repository.
SENATE ENERGY COMMITTEE YUCCA VOTE WEDNESDAY
Contact Sen.Wyden & Sen.Smith Tuesday

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee plans to tackle legislation (S J Res 34) this Wednesday that would overturn Nevada's veto of the use of Yucca Mountain as the nation's nuclear waste repository.

Senator Wyden and Senator Smith are on this committee. They have not stated how they plan to vote though Sen. Ron Wyden will likely vote against the project and Sen. Gordon Smith is leaning toward voting for it.

Contact them Tuesday or early Wednesday and say "vote no against the Yucca Mt. proposal in committee"

If you can only make one phone call, contact Senator Smith.

Toll free: 1-888-554-9256 between 9a.m.-5p.m.EDT. Ask them to transfer you to Wyden or Smith's office. Call early before it jams up. People everywhere in the country are using it.

If you can't get through call their regular D.C number:

Senator Ron Wyden: (202) 224-5244

Senator Gordon Smith: (202) 224-3753

Thank You. For more information or to get involved contact me at Oregon PeaceWorks at (503) 585-2767 or  opw@oregonpeaceworks.org

Michael Carrigan

Background Information

Waste from the Trojan nuclear power plant and the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington may pass through through Oregon to Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that 3,324 truck shipments of highly radioactive waste will travel through Oregon along Interstate 84, or as many as 649 train shipments of the waste will travel alongside Interstates 84 and 5. This cargo may pass through Eugene, Oakridge, Klamath Falls and other cities in Oregon. A final decision on exact routes and transportation methods in Oregon has not been made.

The DOE conducted a study that found that a severe accident in a rural area would contaminate a 42 square mile area, require over a year to clean up and cost $620 million. An accident in an urban area could cause far greater damage. Emergency response and public health infrastructures in Oregon are not prepared to deal with a catastrophe of this magnitude.

DOE hasn't done sufficient testing to determine how well the casks would withstand the impact of a freeway accident, train derailment or fire. The threat of terrorism makes nuclear waste transport an even riskier proposition. Jim Hall, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, has likened the casks to mobile terrorist targets.

Though the House of Representatives recently voted to approve the Yucca Mountain proposal 306-117, Peter DeFazio and three other Oregon Representatives rejected the site recommendation. (Representative Greg Walden approved the site).

Nuclear waste will eventually find its way into into an aquifer that lies under Yucca Mountain, and contaminate water supplies for Las Vegas, Los Angeles and other areas.

Yucca Mountain's seismicity is also under attack as 33 earthquake faults crisscross the area. Las Vegas, home to half a million people, lies just 90 miles away from Yucca Mountain. Members of the Western Shoshone Nation have resided in the area for thousands of years and are actively fighting the Yucca Mountain proposal .

Shipping waste to Nevada will not consolidate the nation's waste in a single spot, as is claimed by the nuclear industry. Nuclear waste must cool for at least five years before it can be handled for shipping, which means there will always be waste at operating nuclear reactors.

Energy Secretary Abraham recently conceded that the Yucca Mountain repository will only be able to hold a portion of the 77,000 tons of waste already generated. It will not be able to hold the new waste expected to be created in the coming decade.

Yucca opponents believe that until there is a better scientific understanding of nuclear waste, it is safer and cheaper to place the waste in dry cask storage in hardened buildings,where it could be stored for decades on site while the government develops a better plan for permanent disposal.

The nuclear industry is spending thousands of dollars on full page color ads in the Register-Guard and other newspapers urging Oregon's Senators to vote yes on Yucca.

A broad coalition of Oregon peace, environmental and church groups is waging an active campaign to get Sen. Wyden and Sen. Smith to vote against the Yucca Mountain proposal. It's a classic struggle between big money and the power of the grassroots.



"There no question that accidents will happen-the U.S. government has admitted that. Since we're dealing with highly radioactive waste, if a serious accident happens, the consequences will be severe." said John Hadder of Citizen Alert, a Nevada-based environmental groups, in a presentation to 80 students at Jefferson Middle School on May 29.

John Hadder is transporting a mock nuclear waste cask through Oregon and other states. The cask represents the kind of containers that may be transporting nuclear waste from the Trojan nuclear power plant and the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington through Oregon to Yucca Mountain, Nevada. His presentation is part of a multi-state campaign to raise awareness of of an upcoming vote in the U.S. Senate on whether or not to approve Yucca Mountain as the permanent repository for the nation's high-level nuclear waste. The Eugene stop was sponsored by Oregon PeaceWorks, Eugene PeaceWorks , and Women's Action for New Directions.

According to teacher Pete Mandrapa, who teaches eighth grade at Jefferson, the students looked at both sides of Yucca Mountain issue and will write letters to their U.S. senators saying what they think should be done. "Once informed, the kids took a real interest in the issue because they learned it will affect their lives, " said Mandrapa.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that 3,324 truck shipments of highly radioactive waste will travel through Oregon along Interstate 84, or as many as 649 train shipments of the waste will travel alongside Interstates 84 and 5. This cargo may pass through Eugene, Oakridge, Klamath Falls and other cities in Oregon. A final decision on exact routes and transportation methods in Oregon has not been made.

The DOE conducted a study that found that a severe accident in a rural area would contaminate a 42 square mile area, require over a year to clean up and cost $620 million. An accident in an urban area could cause far greater damage. Emergency response and public health infrastructures in Oregon are not prepared to deal with a catastrophe of this magnitude.

John Hadder said the DOE hasn't done sufficient testing to determine how well the casks would withstand the impact of a freeway accident, train derailment or fire. The threat of terrorism makes nuclear waste transport an even riskier proposition. Jim Hall, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, has likened the casks to mobile terrorist targets.

Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson opposes designating Yucca Mountain as a waste dump because of the threat posed to local residents by the transportation of nuclear waste through Eugene. "250, 000 people in the Eugene area live within a few miles of the main North-South rail line and their lives would be jeopardized if there was a terrorist attack on a nuclear waste cask," Sorenson said.

The House of Representatives recently voted to approve the Yucca Mountain proposal. Congressman Peter DeFazio rejected the site recommendation. "Instead of acting responsibility and addressing the dangers of nuclear energy or finding viable sources of alternative energy, Congress has chosen to pass the buck to Nevada and say 'not in my back yard,' "said DeFazio.

The U.S. Senate will soon be voting on Yucca Mountain. Oregon's senators have not stated how they plan to vote though Sen. Ron Wyden will likely vote against the project and Sen. Gordon Smith is leaning toward voting for it.

Lavon Rose also spoke to Students at Jefferson. Lavon's father runs a pistachio farms about 10 miles from Yucca Mountain. Rose said she worries that the nuclear waste will eventually find its way into into an aquifer that lies under Yucca Mountain, and contaminate water supplies for Las Vegas, Los Angeles and other areas. "I don't know why people aren't screaming and shouting and jumping up and down about this," she said.

Yucca Mountain's seismicity is also under attack as 33 earthquake faults crisscross the area. Las Vegas, home to half a million people, lies just 90 miles away from Yucca Mountain. Members of the Western Shoshone Nation have resided in the area for thousands of years and are actively fighting the Yucca Mountain proposal .

Shipping waste to Nevada will not consolidate the nation's waste in a single spot, as is claimed by the nuclear industry. Nuclear waste must cool for at least five years before it can be handled for shipping, which means there will always be waste at operating nuclear reactors.

Energy Secretary Abraham recently conceded that the Yucca Mountain repository will only be able to hold a portion of the 77,000 tons of waste already generated. It will not be able to hold the new waste expected to be created in the coming decade.

Yucca opponents believe that until there is a better scientific understanding of nuclear waste, it is safer and cheaper to place the waste in dry cask storage in hardened buildings,where it could be stored for decades on site while the government develops a better plan for permanent disposal.

The nuclear industry is spending thousands of dollars on full page color ads in the Register-Guard and other newspapers urging Oregon's Senators to vote yes on Yucca.

A broad coalition of Oregon peace, environmental and church groups is waging an active campaign to get Sen. Wyden and Sen. Smith to vote against the Yucca Mountain proposal. It's a classic struggle between big money and the power of the grassroots.

Michael Carrigan is a writer for the Oregon PeaceWorker newspaper.
Union drivers ?? 04.Jun.2002 16:52

Zorro

Terrorist want to drive nuclear waste all over America. Yea, so what's the problem? It is not like they are going to store the stuff on a crack in the world. Gee probably be a petty fancy big rig, easy to spot, hell easy to hit. It's eleven o'clock do you know where your Stingers are?

call your representative 05.Jun.2002 07:41

kurtkabang

i called smith and wyden's offices yesterday. usually when i call offices i say, "i'd like senator ____ to vote yes/no for these two/three reasons" and the staffer says "i'll let the senator know you called." smith's office, although i hate his politics, is usually the friendliest (and i usually get a letter from his office, which i've never received from wyden). this time was different, however. smith's staffer became irritated with my feelings on yucca mountain and began to argue with me. he stated that yucca mountain was the safest place and the best place for waste because the population of nevada was so low. he stated that transporting waste was no more dangerous than leaving it in its place, and, in his words, "much less expensive" than having to pay to retrofit the plants to contain their waste. his tone was paternalistic and superior.

usually in politics, the politicians at least pretend to be listening to the public's opinion. i have never been so discouraged due to such a blatant disregard for my beliefs.