Radioactive Roads and Rails Campaign Arrives in Indianapolis: Proposal for Nuclear Waste Transport Through Indiana Denounced
Indianapolis, IN -- At a press conference and public workshop today, concerned citizens and civic leaders joined the Citizen Action Coalition of Indiana, Nuclear Information Resource Service (NIRS), and Public Citizen in calling attention to the dangers associated with transporting highlevel radioactive waste through northern en route to a proposed repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.
The Department of Energy (DOE) is currently preparing to recommend Yucca Mountain, Nevada, as a "permanent disposal site" for highlevel radioactive waste generated by atomic weapons facilities and commercial nuclear reactors across the country. "Members of Congress are under intense pressure from the nuclear power industry to force a dump at Yucca Mountain," said Judy Treichel, Executive Director of the Nevada Nuclear
Waste Task Force. "If the nuclear industry prevails, over 50 million Americans in 43 states will have the risks of nuclear waste transportation imposed on them and their
communities for at least 25 years while the waste is being shipped to Nevada."
Approximately 8300 casks of nuclear waste would pass through Indiana on I-64, 70, 80, and 94, and also by rail. Chris Williams, Executive Director of the Citizen Action Coalition of Indiana, emphasized that communities along these routes would encounter threats to public health, the environment, and the economy in the event of a crash or radiation leak. Even without an accident, property values are likely to drop along nuclear waste transportation routes due to "public perception of danger."
Today's press conference took place against the backdrop of a full-sized mock nuclear waste transport cask. The cask, traveling through Indiana this week, is being hauled across the country by NIRS as part of the national Radioactive Roads and Rails campaign. The states participating in this campaign, including Indiana, would be highly impacted by nuclear waste transportation if the proposed Yucca Mountain repository is approved.
According to speakers at today's event, the nuclear waste transportation casks have never been fully tested. A 1987 study, sponsored by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, used computer modeling to predict cask performance in accident conditions, but actual casks have never been subjected to full-scale testing. DOE risk-analysis data indicates that between 70 and 310 accidents could be expected during waste shipment to Yucca Mountain. "It's unclear whether hospitals, police, and rescue personnel in Indiana would have the capacity to effectively respond to a radiological emergency," said Williams.
Kamps illustrated the magnitude of danger with a comparison to the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II. "Each truck cask could hold up to 40 times the long-lasting, deadly radiation that was released by the Hiroshima bomb; each train cask could hold up to 200 times what was released at Hiroshima. The American people don't deserve these lethal shipments passing by their homes and schools."
Transportation hazards are not the only risks associated with the proposal to build a permanent nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. Geologist Steve Frishman, Technical Policy Co-ordinator for Nevada's Nuclear Waste Project Office, pointed to the danger of groundwater contamination and the potentially severe consequences of an earthquake in the area (Nevada ranks third in the country for seismic activity).
"There is no safe way to dispose of nuclear waste," said Lisa Gue of Public Citizen "No one can guarantee the integrity of the storage casks throughout the 10 000 years that this waste will remain dangerously radioactive."
"The proposal to build a permanent storage facility at Yucca Mountain does not address the nuclear waste problem. It merely transfers the risk to the state of Nevada and other communities unlucky enough to be located along transportation routes targeted for the large-scale shipment of nuclear waste."
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