Inherent dangers in Mississippi as a nuclear waste storage place
Reject nuclear waste storage http://www.clarionledger.com/article/20130827/OPINION01/308270012/Reject-nuclear-waste-storage Aug. 26, 2013 Some ideas are so bad they don’t deserve consideration, and such is the case with the Mississippi Energy Institute’s proposal to build a permanent nuclear waste storage facility in Mississippi.
Yucca Mountain in Nevada was designated the nation’s nuclear waste repository in 1987, but federal funding for the project ended in 2010 after extreme political pressure was placed on Congress and the Obama administration. The pressure came from concerned citizens and activists who feared having the highly radioactive material shipped through their hometowns to the site.
The Energy Department continues to look for a new site, and in 2012, released a blue ribbon study outlining the urgency for determining a new geological repository to consolidate the nuclear waste that is currently being housed in temporary locations across the country.
While nuclear energy itself faces its share of controversy, we believe that it is a safe, viable energy source when properly monitored and maintained. The same could be argued about storing nuclear waste, but we feel doing so overlooks inherent dangers indirectly associated with making Mississippi a temporary or long-term storage facility. Spent fuel rods from nuclear reactors are the most radioactive material of nuclear waste. These rods produce 99 percent of the radiation from nuclear waste, even though they make up a minority of the actual volume of nuclear waste. Nuclear waste can take anywhere from 100 years to thousands of years — in some cases 1 million years — to reach a point where it is no longer radioactive enough to pose a threat.
It’s the presence of such material — not to mention the transportation of it from all across the country to the Magnolia State — that has many people concerned. We tend to agree with those concerns. Despite the nation’s spotless record in transporting nuclear waste, we don’t want to become the destination for U.S. nuclear waste. It would take only one accident to do irreparable damage for decades or longer.
Of course, Mississippi becoming the consolidated geological dumping site for the nation’s nuclear waste is not something that will happen overnight. It would likely take a decade or longer for such a designation to be decided by the federal government. However, short-term storage can happen much sooner.
MEI wants to bring short-term storage of nuclear waste to Mississippi and use emerging technologies to develop a nuclear waste recycling program. Being able to recycle such material is better than burying it thousands of feet underground, and we support the research into such technologies. However, Mississippi does not have to become a short-term storage site for U.S. nuclear waste to conduct such studies.
The nuclear power plant in Port Gibson already stores nuclear waste. It, like other plants, has no place to send the waste for storage. Without a more permanent solution, Port Gibson and other facilities will face real issues. The Energy Department was right in 2012 to insist that the federal government move forward with deliberate speed in finding a permanent, national solution.
However, we hope that Gov. Phil Bryant and state lawmakers will politely remove Mississippi from any consideration — short-term or long-term — as a site to store the nuclear waste from across the country. Some risks are just too great, especially for returns that will not be fully realized for at least 15 years.
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