“Yucca Mountain and surrounding lands were central in the lives of the Western Shoshone and Southern Paiute peoples, who shared them for religious ceremonies, resource use, and social events; Yucca Mountain continues to be considered sacred by the Shoshone people living today.” (Wikipedia)
So sacred in fact, that the U.S. Government wants to place a nuclear waste dump smack in the middle of it. Yup. You heard me. Land sacred to the tribes, chock full of spent nuclear waste. How does that grab you?
“There is an ongoing debate about whether Yucca Mountain is the nation's best place for a nuclear waste repository. The DOE maintains that Yucca Mountain was selected because it was consistently ranked as the site that possessed the best technical and scientific characteristics to serve as a repository. The Department says that Yucca Mountain is a good place to store waste because the repository would be:
- In a desert location
- Isolated and away from population centers (Las Vegas, the nearest metropolitan area, is 90 miles away)
- Secured 1,000 feet under the surface
- In a closed hydrological basin
- Surrounded by federal land
- Protected by natural geological barriers
- Protected by robustly engineered barriers and a flexible design.”
What could go wrong? Let me count the ways:
- It is in an active earthquake area with at least 33 earthquake faults in and around the site.
- There are volcanic cinder cones near the site.
- It is above an aquifer, and any faults and fractures could cause that water to be contaminated with nuclear waste.
- There is hydrothermal activity at the site.
And is this the best site that they could think of? The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) hasn’t made a final decision yet, but this site is the only player in contention.
“In any event, the NRC has not made a final decision on the repository license application, but the agency could easily vote on DOE'S application to build the repository once environmental reviews are complete, land and water issues are resolved, and after a series of lengthy and complex hearings on challenges from third parties are entertained.” (Yucca Mountain)
What happens when the amount of nuclear waste that we generate exceeds the available ‘safe’ space to contain it? The following picture shows the current storage areas for nuclear waste.
And what happens when the railways and highways used to transport it are impacted by accident? The following picture shows the intended route to the proposed Yucca Mountain final storage facility that would house the waste from the other locations.
What happens to the surrounding communities when they are impacted by the debris of a nuclear accident resulting from the transportation to Yucca Mountain? Don’t think for one minute that this couldn’t happen. It can and it will. And the contamination will be widespread with no handy solution. An American Chernobyl. We are quite literally playing with fire when we decide that the only way for Americans to have ‘cheap’ energy is to play Russian Roulette with spent nuclear waste.