Guy W. Farmer: It’s time to pound the final nail into Yucca’s coffin

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal

The proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository in Southern Nevada is like a giant cockroach. You can beat it with a stick, but it just won’t die. I urge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to put this highly toxic project out of its misery so the Silver State doesn’t become the nation’s nuclear waste dump.

Yucca Mountain was out of the news for a while until this month, when a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. — of course— voted 2-1 to order the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to complete the licensing process for a nuclear waste dump that most Nevadans don’t want. Reid labeled the court ruling “fairly meaningless” and Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, said it’s “an exercise in futility” and “a waste of money,” which is true.

Reid’s GOP counterpart, Sen. Dean Heller of Carson City, added that “the designation of Nevada as the nation’s nuclear waste dump was wrong in 1987, and is still wrong today ... (this) decision serves as yet another example of why Yucca Mountain needs to be taken off the table once and for all.” Amen!

Reid and Heller are doing their bipartisan best to starve the moribund project to death by cutting off funding for any further work at the site only 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Of course, this won’t stop the Inside the Beltway crowd and the nuclear energy industry from trying to dump more than 77,000 tons of highly toxic nuclear waste on us, and they’ll be joined in their efforts by states that generate large amounts of waste, such as South Carolina and Washington, which have filed lawsuits aimed at forcing Nevada to store their waste. They never mention that the Silver State hasn’t generated any nuclear waste since the Nevada Test State closed down many years ago.

My position is clear: You generate nuclear waste, you store it. Don’t try to dump it on us because “Nevada is a wasteland and no one lives there.” And stop making phony promises about millions of federal dollars that will float down from the skies if only we shut up and learn to love radioactive waste.

And sure enough, when faced with nuclear waste storage problems, other states are crafting interim solutions. For example, managers of the Comanche Peak nuclear reactor in Texas are putting highly radioactive uranium waste into concrete casks to start a long-term cooling process. Other states could do the same.

So what happens next? “This (court decision) isn’t even a bump in the road,” Reid asserted. “There’s no money for Yucca Mountain.” That should be the end of the story, and I hope it is.

Bob Thomas, R.I.P.

Some of the strong language in today’s column could be a tribute to my late friend and fellow columnist Bob Thomas, who died two weeks ago. Bob was a man of strong convictions and opinions, and he always defended them fiercely. I got to know him quite well through our weekly lunches with our fellow columnist, Sam Bauman. Politically, Bob was on the right, Sam is on the left and Bob called me a “wimpy moderate.” But that was OK by me as long as he paid for lunch. But seriously, Bob was a good friend and a worthy adversary. I’ll miss him and offer my heartfelt condolences to his widow, Ingrid, and the rest of the fine Thomas family.

Guy W. Farmer is the Nevada Appeal’s senior political columnist.


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