For Immediate Release: Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Press availability: Wednesday, October 17, 2:30 P.M. at Senate Minority Offices
Senate Leader Calls on Utah to Oppose Revival of Yucca Mt. Project
October 17, 2018 – Salt Lake City: With the U.S. Senate poised for a post-election vote to revive the moribund high-level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada (YMP), Utah State Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis (D-Salt Lake) opened a file for a resolution calling on his colleagues and Utah’s U.S. Senators to join their Nevada neighbors in opposing funding for the project.
Were the radioactive tomb to open for business, “Utah would see more road miles and more train-track miles of transportation of casks full of high-level spent fuel waste than any other state,” Senator Davis warned.
That would increase the risks that Utahns could be exposed to catastrophic releases of radiation, Senator Davis said. “The risk of exposing our communities to a radioactive release caused by an accident or by a deliberate terrorist attack is low, but it is an unacceptable gamble for the people of our state.”
The Trump Administration is proposing a $120 million budget to resume the licensing process for YMP, which was abandoned under the Obama Administration after years of study and contention.
“We’ve been down this radioactive road before, and the federal government and the nuclear industry are not to be trusted in this matter,” said Steve Erickson, of Citizens Education Project and a long-time advocate for downwinders who suffered from exposure to radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons tests. “The choice of Yucca Mountain for the nuke dump was purely political – it was known as the ‘Screw Nevada Bill’. When it comes to radioactive waste disposal, to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, Westerners need to hang together in opposition, or we will surely hang separately,” Erickson stated.
Davis introduced a similar resolution, SJR 14, in the 2002 General Session of the Utah Legislature, but Republican leaders refused the opportunity for a Senate floor debate. Later that year, the U.S. Senate voted to move forward with the repository, but myriad hydro-geological problems with the facility, legal hurdles and political opposition brought the project to a halt.
“Utah has never benefited from nuclear power but we are continually stuck dealing with its toxic waste,” said Dr. Scott Williams, Executive Director of HEAL Utah. “The Yucca Mountain cavern is too wet and too seismically unstable, so it does not meet the scientific criteria as a deep geologic storage site for this highly radioactive material. There are other sites that do meet that criteria and other disposal strategies that are safer.”
“It’s time for Senators Hatch and Lee stand up for their constituents, acknowledge that this project is a failure, and stop throwing good money after bad,” Senator Davis said.
Map of Transportation Routes to Yucca Mountain:
U.S. General Accounting Office Summary of Yucca Mountain Repository History and Current Issues (2017)