The Dumping Ground Debate

The Bush Administration would like to leave nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain as part of its legacy.
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The Bush administration is pushing harder to deposit nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. Last week, it revived efforts to site a central repository for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in the Nevada range by filing a formal construction license application for review by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman told reporters that the facility can "stand up to any challenge anywhere," noting that issues of health safety have been a primary concern during the planning process.

According to a law passed in 1982, the federal government is contractually required to accept the spent fuel from commercial nuclear power plants and was to have had a central repository ready a decade ago. But efforts have been delayed by Nevada politicians citing public health and safety concerns—particularly long-time Democratic Senator Harry Reid. The Bush administration, long a proponent of nuclear energy, is tired of waiting, and sees getting Yucca Mountain approved as part of its legacy—if it can convince the Nuclear Regulatory Commission first.

Reid thinks the waste ought to stay where it is—currently it is spread out across 121 sites around the country—until a better long-term solution is reached that doesn't endanger the lives of Nevada residents. He said in a statement that he and other Nevada lawmakers "will continue working … to kill the dump."

Source: MSNBC