A new Yucca Mountain in New Mexico?

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WASHINGTON — Is a salt formation in New Mexico the new Yucca Mountain?

A trade industry publication reports today that discussions are underway to promote an existing facility in New Mexico as an alternative to storing the nation’s spent nuclear fuel in the desert north of Las Vegas.

The Obama administration has promised to “scale back” funds for the Yucca Mountain project, and the president has vowed it will not open as a waste dump. A report last week indicated the fiscal 2010 funding cut would be severe.

The existing Waste Isolation Pilot Project, which handles lower-level waste in salt formation in New Mexico, has been mentioned as a possible replacement.


Downwinders closer to justice

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TRI-CITIES — Neighbors in the Tri-Cities, exposed to radioactive material from the Hanford Nuclear Facility, are one step closer to getting justice.

For the past 20 years, the affected neighbors have been in and out of court, trying to get the contractors who ran Hanford to accept responsibility for what happened.

On Tuesday, a federal judge asked both sides to lay out a road map to resolve close to 2,000 cases


Don’t gamble with nuclear

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The Vermont Attorney General’s Web site states, “Vermont’s gambling laws are designed to ensure that only nonprofit organizations can operate games of chance and that all the proceeds from such games, except for prizes and reasonable expenses, go to charity.” Yet Entergy (a for-profit corporation) gambles with our lives, the lives of our children and our environment by continuing to operate Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. With every passing day, with every additional accident, the odds that the plant is safe, clean and reliable worsen.

As wheelers and dealers, the Douglas administration, the Public Service Board, the Department of Public Service, and the Legislature are complicit in the corporate gamble. On top of that, the gambling tickets are bought with the money we pay in taxes — talk about bailouts.

Safe and clean energy means energy that does not affect the health of our children and families, the health of the animals on our farms or the health of the environment. Vermonters have demonstrated, over and over again, their desire for reliable, safe, clean renewable energy. It is time for Governor Douglas, his administration and the Legislature to stop gambling with our lives. It is time to shut down Entergy Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant for good and to start building healthy relationships with businesses that supply us with safe, renewable, green energy sources.


Oyster Creek an accident waiting to happen

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Anuclear plant reactor tries to safely contain more radioactivity than is in the fallout of 1,000 Hiroshima atom bombs.

The Oyster Creek spent fuel rod pool contains much more deadly radioactivity. The pool has a flimsy roof that could easily be penetrated to cause a fuming meltdown.

Who would have thought that the World Trade Center could be destroyed so easily? As for nuclear power plants, we haven’t seen anything yet.

There is an official rule. It says that a mere 10-mile evacuation zone is perfectly adequate. This is idiotic.


Obama’s nuke-free world

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See if you can place this scene:

At the height of a high-stakes bilateral summit, the American president turns to his Russian counterpart and suggests they get rid of nuclear weapons. The Russian president replies, “We can do that. We can eliminate them all.” The U.S. secretary of State says, “Let’s do it.”

Is it from the TV show “The West Wing,” with its idealistic U.S. president, Jed Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen? No, but here’s a hint: This bit of reality was captured on location in Reykjavik, Iceland. Still stumped? Here’s another clue, though it’s a bit of a giveaway: One of the players in the scene was an actor.


Settlement offers may be made to some downwinders

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SPOKANE, Wash. — The lead lawyer for government contractors in the long-running Hanford downwinders lawsuit says his companies are ready to offer cash settlements to some of the more than 2,000 people who believe their illnesses were caused by radiation released from the nuclear reservation.

Attorney Kevin Van Wart, of Chicago, who represents Hanford contractors E.I. DuPont De Nemours & Co. and General Electric Co., said his clients were willing to settle some claims of people exposed to the most radiation, The Spokesman-Review reported. He spoke at a status conference on the 18-year-old lawsuit, hosted by U.S. District Judge William Nielsen on Tuesday.

“This case has been caught on dead center for too long,” Nielsen told the attorneys. “Let’s come up with something so we can proceed.


US to spend $6 billion on Cold War weapons cleanup

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WASHINGTON — The Energy Department will spend $6 billion as part of President Barack Obama’s stimulus package to clean up nuclear weapons sites at Cold War-era facilities, with more than half the money going to sites in Washington and South Carolina, a senior official told Congress on Wednesday.

The government will focus on decontaminating and demolishing tainted facilities, removing radioactive waste and trying to restore soil and groundwater, Ines Triay, the department’s acting assistant secretary for environmental management, told a Senate Armed Services panel.

More than $1.9 billion will be spent on cleanup at the Hanford site, a former plutonium production complex on the Columbia River in southeastern Washington. The site produced plutonium used in the first nuclear bomb. The government said there are more than 53 million gallons of radioactive and chemically hazardous waste in 177 underground storage tanks there along with 2,300 tons of spent nuclear fuel and nine tons of plutonium.