By Jane Stoever
The specter of “a mobile Chernobyl” arose recently when Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., decried a plan to renew funding for the Yucca Mountain (Nevada) Nuclear Waste Repository. The site was approved in 2002, funding was discontinued in 2011, and now Congress may revive the funding. Markey railed against the Yucca revival during a meeting May 22 in Washington, DC, where the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) gave Markey an award. In his talk, Markey says the original plan for the repository “had nothing to do with science. It had everything to do with political science, just picking a location, regardless of the earthquake fault, regardless of the river nearby, regardless of whether or not it would ever be constructed.” Problems plagued its development, leading to the slashing of its budget.
Markey continued, “It didn’t make any difference whether $10 billion would be wasted or $20 billion because the nuclear industry wanted a place to bury this stuff, and to move it across our country, in trucks from every location, a mobile Chernobyl, regardless of what the dangers on the streets of our nation might be.”
Among those listening to Markey were two PeaceWorks Board members, Ann Suellentrop (videographer) and Bennette Dibben. PeaceWorks is one of many groups that make up ANA. Some 70 activists from 24 states attended ANA’s DC Days, complete with an awards buffet, lobbying, and an annual meeting. “The Yucca repository is vigorously opposed by Nevada, where it’s located,” says Suellentrop. The House of Representatives recently passed a bill to fund and open the Yucca repository again. Suellentrop adds. “The Senate will possibly debate and vote on a similar bill, or it may go nowhere. Over 90 percent of nuclear waste is east of the Mississippi River, so if Yucca Mountain is opened again, much of this dangerous waste would have to be transported through St. Louis and Kansas City by rail. Train wrecks never happen, right?!”
Other activities during DC Days brought Suellentrop and Dibben to meetings with congressional staffers. The discussion topics included the need to increase funds for dismantling nuclear weapons and to curtail the plan to revamp the nuclear weapon arsenal to the tune of more than $1 trillion in the next 30 years.