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Don't let nuclear industry transport or store waste in Utah or Nevada

More than a decade ago, many Utahns, Nevadans and other Americans worked to prevent a massive boondoggle and national mistake, the MX (the Misguided eXpenditure as we called it) project. The excellent series on nuclear waste issues and the Deseret News' editorials opposing nuclear waste storage in Utah serve a vital purpose in alerting Utah's residents to the risks associated with the federal government and nuclear industry's plans to manage - more accurately mismanage - high-level nuclear waste.

As the nuclear industry begins its propaganda assault on Utahns, making arguments such as that nuclear energy is clean, cheap and abundant, that nuclear waste being shipped to or through Utah would be as safe as mothers pushing their babies in strollers, and that the health of the nuclear power industry is synonymous with national security and apple pie, please consider the following:It is not "environmentalists" that are causing the phaseout of nuclear power in the United States but market forces. Despite billions of dollars in federal subsidies, nuclear energy is more expensive than alternatives and is failing the market test.

A salient example is found in the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which shut down the Rancho Seco (known locally as Rancho Mistako) in favor of an aggressive program of energy efficiency and renewable energy supply.

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Henry Kendall of MIT estimates that the cost of nuclear-generated electricity would double if its subsidization were eliminated.

A major issue of utility deregulation is who is going to take the loss on nuclear white elephants. Advocates of nuclear power typically call for additional government spending on the technology and cite the achievements of Electricite de France, a socialist enterprise that produces electricity far more expensively than does the private sector in the United States with alternative technologies.

Geothermal energy, wind power and even solar thermal electric - renewable energy technologies - are more economical than nuclear energy and more environmentally benign. No state is fighting a solar or wind energy waste dump.

Storing nuclear waste in dry casks at the reactors where it was produced avoids the costs and risks of transportation. The Department of Energy has stated that radiation emitted from nuclear reactors is lower than natural background radiation and that nuclear waste is even more benign. There is no exigency, national emergency or reason that nuclear waste be moved for the next hundred years. Technology or the economics of reprocessing may have rendered the nuclear waste issue moot in the decades to come. Political haste makes waste.

Transporting nuclear waste across thousands of miles en route to or through Utah is not nearly so safe a proposition. Accidents that exceed design parameters of nuclear shipping casks do occur. A past record of nuclear transportation is no guarantee of future safety. Much oil was shipped safely before the Exxon Valdez illustrated how human error can compromise both safe shipping technologies and the environment.

The issue of terrorism and sabotage related to nuclear waste transportation is interesting but confusing. Proponents say it can't happen; however, if it does, insurance coverage - limited by the Price-Anderson Act - is eliminated.

Be aware that the nuclear industry and federal bureaucrats have often combined secretly to dispel concerns about risks of nuclear waste. Please write your congressional delegation and urge them to derail the shipment of high-level nuclear waste. By opposing transportation to and storage of high-level nuclear waste in either of our states, we defend our safety, states' rights and the national interest.