Editorial: Nuclear Storage
Public must know truth about groundwater effects
Detroit Free Press
Published March 29th, 2005
Asetback for the Yucca Mountain nuclear storage project
feels like a setback around here as well. The long-delayed
site represents the only decent hope so far that Michigan
and its neighbors can get spent fuel away from the shores
of the Great Lakes, where it sits alongside the nuclear
plants that used it.
That made very unwelcome news of the jaw-dropping announcement
earlier this month that some research may have been falsified
to show that radioactive material stored at Yucca Mountain
would not endanger groundwater in its vicinity. The Department
of Energy is investigating, after damaging e-mails turned
up about work by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Moving the spent fuel away from water supplies here obviously
can't come at the cost of ruining the drinking water in
other parts of the country. The research has to be done
right, no matter what the answer is, even if it means
the country has to search out another solution.
And whatever the answer is, the Department of Energy will
need to explain it as openly and completely as possible,
in a way that nonscientists can understand. That's a minimum
requirement at this point for retaining Americans' confidence
in the precision and straightforwardness they deserve
from their government -- especially when one locale, in
this case Nevada, is being imposed upon to the benefit
of the rest of the country.
Back in the hazy past, when the government first started
working on the idea of a central nuclear storage site,
the project was supposed to be up and running by 1998.
That has since been pushed back to at least 2015, and
that was before this new snafu came to light.
So much depends on getting nuclear waste storage right,
from heightened terrorism worries in the post-9/11 world
to the ability to debate whether global warming concerns
ought to prompt more use of nuclear power. This devastating
cloud of suspicion must be cleared up as soon as possible.