No Yucca? Then Stop All Radioactive Shipments to Nevada

Nicolas Loris /

On Wednesday Nevadan officials met to discuss the transportation of used nuclear fuel to the geologic repository Yucca Mountain. Needless to say, officials had concerns over transporting radioactive waste claiming the plan “lacks so much specificity.”

If a few politically entrenched officials in Nevada are going to halt a completely safe process that could grow the state’s ailing economy, maybe we should let them. In fact, since shipping spent fuel is supposedly so dangerous, maybe no radioactive shipments should head to Nevada.

Let’s take a look at some of the uses of radiation:

• Diagnose and treat illnesses
• Kill bacteria and preserve food without chemicals and refrigeration
• Process sludge for fertilizer and soil conditioner
• Locate underground natural resources and tell a dry hole from a gusher
• Make smoke detectors, nonstick frypans, and ice cream
• Grow stronger crops
• Power satellites and provide future electrical needs for space laboratories with people on board
• Design instruments, techniques, and equipment; measure air pollution
• Prove the age of works of art and assist in determining their authenticity

And that doesn’t even include any of the national security applications of radioactive materials.

The point is that the nation’s (and Nevada’s) food, manufacturing, energy, medical, and educational industries rely on the safe use of radiological materials, which do not just grow on trees. Acquiring them, in many cases, means shipping them from one location to another.

It therefore seems somewhat hypocritical for some Nevadan politicians to object to shipping spent nuclear fuel from other states when other states have to accept that radioactive materials bound for Nevada are shipped through their states.

What’s worse, according the EPA, Nevada actually gets 16.4 percent of its electricity from out of state nuclear power plants.

So in the end, maybe Nevada should get its way but in return, perhaps no state should allow any radioactive materials headed toward Nevada to be transported through its state and Nevada can find some other method to generate 16 percent of its power.

Furthermore, if Nevadan politicians are so committed to killing Yucca, then kill it. They should pay back the money that they took from American nuclear energy rate payers (of course they can keep what they paid for the nuclear electricity that they used) and stop taking additional money.

Let them kill Yucca. Kill the jobs. Kill their economy. Nevadan elites cannot be allowed to hold the nation’s energy future hostage any longer.

Those good high paying jobs can go somewhere else.

The reality is this:

More than 20 million packages with radioactive materials are transported globally each year–3 million of them in the United States. Since 1971, more than 20,000 shipments of spent fuel and high-level waste have been transported more than 18 million miles without incident. Transportation of radioactive materials is just not a problem. The only time it becomes a problem is if politicians make it a problem.

If politics are going to stop nuclear waste from coming to Nevada, so be it. I can think of a number of officials from other states willing to jump at the opportunity to create jobs for their state and increase their state’s GDP. Maybe then Nevada will realize its mistake – they say ya never know what ya got til it’s gone.