The following op-ed from David Holt, President of Consumer Energy Alliance, appeared on the National Journal website here, in response to the discussion question “Nuclear Power Going To Waste?” on July 7, 2010.
The Federal Government made a legal commitment to dispose of the high-level nuclear waste at the Yucca Mountain facility years ago, and the Administration’s recent decision to shut down the facility’s development not only puts the future of safe, and affordable nuclear energy production into question, it also raises the question of the ultimate disposal of nuclear waste. Current storage facilities, while very safe, were not intended for permanent storage and would have to be expanded if the government does not proceed with the Yucca facility.
The Administration’s Blue Ribbon Commission, which is currently investigating alternatives to the Yucca Mountain repository, does not preclude the government from maintaining its commitment to moving forward with the facility now. Alternative solutions – from expanding onsite storage at nuclear facilities to relying on new recycling technologies — are years away, and even some of those alternatives will still produce byproducts that require a safe depository.
The government has a legal obligation to provide for the long-term storage of highly radioactive waste at this facility – and they have already collected $34 billion from the industry to do just that. Nuclear energy is a clean, reliable energy form that will help to stabilize domestic energy prices, if and only if, Congress and the Administration are fully behind making it a part of a well rounded domestic energy program.