When it comes to dealing with radioactive waste, it appears to be one of those situations where we’re nuked if we do and nuked if we don’t. That point was made frightfully clear during last week’s congressional debate regarding the shipment of spent nuclear fuel to a proposed site deep beneath Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. Bringing the matter particularly close to home, each side pointed to the potential consequences on the Great Lakes to bolster their respective arguments.
Proponents of the Yucca Mountain site say that it’s too dangerous to keep storing radioactive waste at facilities scattered across 39 states. Among other hazards is the threat these sites pose to our drinking water.
“Removing nuclear waste from the Great Lakes ecosystem is my No. 1 priority,” said Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill. “The Great Lakes are a source of 20 percent of the world’s total supply of fresh water. … And there are 31 sites around the Great Lakes, including in my district where we house 1,000 tons of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel stored next to Lake Michigan, 100 yards from the shoreline. No scientific study says that we can permanently store nuclear waste in such a wet part of the United States, so close to where so many Americans depend on [this] fresh-water supply.”
Then we have Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich, who’s equally adamant that transporting this radioactive crap poses an incredible danger. He pointed out the little-reported fact that there are plans to ship some of the waste across Lake Michigan on barges.
“Over 35,000,000 people living in the Great Lakes Basin get their drinking water from the Great Lakes. And I venture to guess they will not appreciate the fact that nuclear waste is being shipped across their drinking water.”
The House overwhelmingly came down on the side of the movers, giving a thumbs-up to the Yucca site. The Senate is expected to take up the issue this summer, and we envy not a bit the task of making this lose/lose choice.
The only thing that seems indisputable in this deadly dilemma is another statement by Kucinich:
“Any transport of nuclear waste is a threat to public health and safety, and any storage of nuclear waste, in Nevada or anywhere else, is a threat to public health and safety. It’s an urgent matter of public policy and public health and safety that this Congress begin a serious effort to fund creation of safe and sustainable sources of energy so that the nightmare which began over 50 years ago and which we are living right now will not be visited upon future generations who have to deal with the issue of transporting nuclear waste.”Curt Guyette is Metro Times news editor. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or firstname.lastname@example.org