Las Vegas Sun

September 15, 2019

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Fighting Yucca wastes time

Judy Treichel’s May 26 guest column, “Yucca Mountain is plenty safe, unless you live here,” states that the Total System Performance Assessment (TSPA) is too complex and too long to understand. This illustrates the folly of Nevada’s anti-nuclear argument.

Groups like the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force and others have pressured agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and Nuclear Regulatory Commission to craft requirements so rigorous that they can only be addressed by sophisticated modeling based upon finite data. And these groups propose other nonphysical arguments such as million-year compliance periods.

So the complexity of the science is a direct result of political and emotional arguments. While straightforward science can be used to demonstrate safety, results can no longer be used to demonstrate compliance — since the latter has become divorced from reasonable, physically based biological risk. So it’s illogical to argue both that you need sophisticated science to demonstrate compliance and that the sophisticated science can’t be understood and therefore believed.

The May 29 letter to the editor “Nevada can be an energy leader” says it nicely: There is no technical reason for Nevadans not to support nuclear energy and its waste management. What a shame that for years, the state has lost an opportunity for leadership in this industry.