A watchdog group says the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste disposal project in Nevada that South Carolina and some other states have been depending on is doomed to close, but not just because of politics.
Opponents of the closure say it has been planned due to an agreement that Nevada Senator Harry Reid got from the Obama Administration. But Tom Clements with Friends of the Earth of South Carolina says it’s also important to note that those opposed to the project believe that it has major problems, all politics aside.
Clements says the future of the project will be obvious within a year, but it’s very likely that it’s dead, and it’s time to look at other options.
Clements says there are several technical problems with the project that could interfere with it being licensed, regardless of politics.
“The site was selected based on politics in 1987, not science. Nevada at the time was politically weak and there wasn’t much resistance. And it was discovered while digging the tunnels that there was water infiltration. And part of the titanium shields over storage casks in the tunnel need to be replaced and it’s uncertain if there’s money to do that.”
(Clements on Yucca Mountain closure MP3 1:55)
Clements on Yucca Mountain closure
Governor Mark Sanford addressed the Governor’s Nuclear Advisory Council last week, discussing the efforts to urge the Obama Administration not to close Yucca Mountain. Governor Sanford says South Carolina has invested $1.2 billion in the project now being shut down.
Clements says those in South Carolina government who are in favor of keeping Yucca Mountain open want to be able to unload the waste material already kept at the Savannah River Site(SRS). He asserts that if SRS is selected as a site to reprocess nuclear fuel, a by-product of that will be the production of far more nuclear waste than is currently stored at the site.
The Blue Ribbon Commission on Nuclear Waste set up by President Obama began meeting last Thursday and will produce a report within 18 months. Clements says in the meantime waste will be stored where it is, at sites around the country.
Clements says the decision about generating nuclear waste and disposing of it is one of the most important ones that current generations will make, because it will affect people for many thousands of years.
“It’s going to be radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. We’re passing this problem off to future generations. Yucca Mountain would fail after a period of time. The containers would fail first, then the facility. Then the material would leak into the environment. It was supposed to be designed to be safe for a million years, but how can anyone do that?”