Tragedy in Japan sparks up new Yucca debate
Wed, Mar 23, 2011 (1:50 p.m.)
Yucca Mountain is dead. Kaput. President Obama put the final nail in its coffin, yet the now-mothballed nuclear waste repository is again on the lips of a few clueless lawmakers who want to reopen the discussion in light of what’s happening in Japan. The failure of a nuclear plant there is proof that we need to get all spent nuclear fuel off the premises and store it 90 miles away from Las Vegas, they say. Why? Because it makes for great sound bites. Never mind that spent fuel sitting in a pond is an apple to the Yucca-stored waste orange. Never mind that even in earthquake-prepared Japan, nothing was immune from an 8.9-magnitude temblor. And never mind that Yucca Mountain itself sits on a fault line. We ache for the victims of Japan’s tragedy, and acknowledge nuclear power carries tremendous risks. But the solution lies in building better plants, having better backups and supporting less-deadly energy-producing alternatives in the meantime. If we spent even a fraction of all that Washington, D.C. windbaggery on solar and wind—in Nevada and elsewhere—imagine where we might be today.