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A flawed nuke waste argument

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Somehow, we knew it would come to this. The out-of-state "experts" who approve of dumping nuclear waste on an Indian reservation 40 miles west of Salt Lake City have started using the race card.

First, Nobel Prize winners and an astronaut said Utah has nothing to fear from spent nuclear fuel rods and therefore should welcome them. And now, a Harvard physicist says that if Utah rejects a proposal to accept nuclear waste (which nobody else wants) the state may very well be viewed as racist.Harvard Professor Richard Wilson told a gathering Monday that Gov. Mike Leavitt's efforts to block attempts to build a nuclear waste storage facility 40 miles from Salt Lake City would look to the country like "the local white man" in power trying to "do down" the Indians.

What nonsense. Not only are those comments insensitive, they're inaccurate.

Using legal avenues and public opinion to thwart attempts to ship more than 10 million highly radioactive fuel rods to Utah is hardly racist. The governor is wise to do all he can to prevent the action from occurring. His position has nothing to do with the fact the proposed storage site is on the Goshute Indian Reservation in Skull Valley. He is, in fact, joined by a number of Indians around the West who also oppose the plan.

The money that would go to the Goshutes for storing the waste is not nearly worth the risk of bringing a tremendous amount of hazardous material into the state.

There would be no discrimination should an accident occur involving nuclear matter. It would harm people of all races equally.

This is a project promoted by utility companies in the East and Midwest who think Utah is a convenient dumping ground. They argue the site would be only temporary and that the spent fuel rods would ultimately be shipped to a permanent site in Nevada. However, just as no state wants to be the place for a temporary site, none wants to be the place for a permanent one either. If the consortium of out-of-state utility companies, known as Private Fuel Storage, gets its way, Utah might become both the temporary and permanent site.

The rods have a lethal shelf life of 10,000 years. Currently they're stored in the states where they're generated. That's where they should remain.

Utah already is storing its share of waste, such as the chemical weapons at the Dugway Proving Ground. It shouldn't have to store materials now residing in places thousands of miles away. and it shouldn't have to endure name-calling by outsiders who don't have to live next to the stuff.