Las Vegas Sun

September 2, 2014

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WHERE I STAND:

It could have been us instead of New Mexico

Don’t worry. It’s safe.

Where have we heard that before?

The two things consistent about nuclear radiation are that it lasts a very long time, and governments say whatever they need in order to get people to feel OK living near one of the deadliest substances known to man.

This subject was explored two weeks ago in The Sunday, which examined the decades-long effort by the rest of the country to bury us beneath their nuclear waste, putting at risk our livelihoods, our security, our way of life and our peace of mind.

But the topic is also very timely, given the anxiety coursing among the people who live near the Waste Isolation Pilot Program (WIPP) outside Carlsbad, N.M.

While Nevadans were successfully fighting the federal government and every nuclear power producer and their lackeys in Congress to keep the deadly waste out of our backyard, the people of New Mexico believed the government’s promises to keep them safe and allowed the WIPP plant to be built in their front yard.

Remember, high-level nuclear waste must be kept stable for hundreds of thousands of years because the half-life of this stuff is counted in millennia, not decades. Here we are, just 15 years into the pilot program near Carlsbad, and what are the headlines? Here’s just a sampling from this past week: “Energy Department probes radioactive leak at New Mexico nuclear dump” and “Lab: Radiation detected above ground near WIPP site east of Carlsbad.”

News flash! That ain’t supposed to happen. Especially not just a few years into a multithousand-year program to keep high-level nuclear waste and human beings and our environment from any kind of interaction.

Can you imagine similar headlines in Las Vegas, a destination for 40 million tourists a year? They’ll stay home!

The point is that the government has been telling Nevadans that all things nuclear have been safe for us ever since they started blowing up atom bombs in our desert more than half a century ago. They told us the fallout was safe. Ask the folks downwind in Southern Utah how that turned out.

As for what the government has been telling Nevadans lately? We are told that burying high-level nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain is one of the safest exercises known to man, or some other such nonsense. Fortunately, Nevadans, led by our senior U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, have not taken the government at its word when it comes to our personal safety.

The government gave that same spiel to the folks in New Mexico. And now come the headlines.

I hope the high radioactive warnings were wrong, and I hope nothing has gone awry beneath the surface of the New Mexico burial ground. But, as we all know, hope is not a strategy and certainly not one that we should cling to, for our own citizens and the millions of tourists who come here to relax.

So, dear readers, keep reading The Sunday and the Las Vegas Sun because we will continue to keep you informed. Especially when the government and the nuke industry profiteers promise us the world just to WIPP us into shape.

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