The case for Yucca

The events of Sept. 11 have forever changed the way we look at many things, not the least of which is the everyday safety and security of Americans.

The terrorist attacks and our subsequent enlightenment about how great the threat really is added new vigor to the debate over what to do with this nation’s nuclear waste.

Regardless of where you stand on the advisability of nuclear energy or weapons, we have been generating nuclear waste for decades with no sound way of storing it securely. There are 131 above-ground storage facilities in 38 states. It’s hard enough to oversee hamburger chains in that many locations, let alone nuclear waste dumps.

Locally, this affects Akron-based FirstEnergy, which operates nuclear power plants in Ohio.

A solution is at hand in the form of the Yucca Mountain permanent nuclear waste facility in Nevada. But, as expected, Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn vetoed President Bush’s recommendation of the site, setting up a Congressional showdown. Congress must act quickly and decisively to put this issue to rest.

One can’t blame Gov. Guinn for his stand. We would equally oppose shipping waste through our crowded urban areas to the Nevada site. But we need a central, secure site that can withstand the threats of terrorists and natural disasters alike. After 20 years and $4 billion of research, Yucca Mountain fits the bill.

If ever there was a time and a place for a facility like Yucca Mountain, surely this is it. Congress must have the backbone to approve the project and commit to the planning and resources needed to assure everyone’s safety along the way.