Yucca Mountain the Hole to Nowhere

….spends our tax dollars with virtually nothing in return for the expenditures.

Since the dawn of nuclear power in 1957 it quickly became apparent that spent fuel rods were a problem that would have to be addressed. The National Academy of Sciences recommended a deep rock repository as the best method to secure the rods while protecting the environment. In 1978 the Department of Energy began assessing Yucca Mountain as a national repository. In 1987 Congress passed a joint resolution to develop Yucca Mountain.

In 2002, President George W. Bush signed House Joint Resolution 87, allowing the DOE to take the next step in establishing a safe repository in which to store the country's nuclear waste. In 2006 Ward (Edward) Sproat, a nuclear industry executive formerly of PECO energy in Pennsylvania, was nominated by President Bush to lead the Yucca Mountain Project. Following the 2006 mid-term Congressional elections, Nevada Senator Harry Reid, a long time opponent of the repository, became the Senate Majority Leader, putting him in a position to greatly affect the future of the project. Reid has said that he would continue to work to block completion of the project, and is quoted as having said: ‘Yucca Mountain is dead. It'll never happen.’

In the 2008 Omnibus Spending Bill, the Yucca Mountain Project's budget was reduced to $390 million. Despite this cut in funding, the project was able to reallocate resources and delay transportation expenditures to complete the License Application for submission on June 3, 2008. Lacking an operating repository, however, the federal government owes to the utilities somewhere between $300 and $500 million per year in compensation for failing to comply with the contract it signed to take the spent nuclear fuel by 1998.

Recently, Keith Rogers of the Las Vegas Review Journal reported; ‘The Obama administration is poised to move forward with a blue ribbon panel to look at alternatives for dealing with radioactive waste, but the Department of Energy for now will continue to pursue a license to put it in Yucca Mountain….The language doesn't include a suggested funding level for next year, ‘but makes it clear that the (Obama) administration is going to go forward with another solution to the nation's nuclear waste that doesn't include Yucca Mountain,’ said Jon Summers, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev….The project is projected to have a record low $288 million spending level, a $100 million reduction, the rest of fiscal year 2009 as Reid negotiated in a omnibus bill for agency funding through September.’

Let’s review, since 1978 Yucca Mountain has been the center of research, development and funding to prepare it is as the national repository for spent nuclear fuel rods. Billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars have gone to this project and what we the taxpayers have to show for is an empty hole in the ground which will be studied by a blue ribbon panel. Although Senator Reid opposes the facility he allows $288 million to be spent on an empty hole that will never be used for its original purpose. For the future one has to ask what would be a more effective use of taxpayer dollars. To fund Yucca Mountain for another 30 years as we refill it with good clean Navada dirt, or to fund the other 49 states and let them dig holes for no purpose for the next 30 years.

Mike Caccitolo

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply