OT Yucca Mountain route

Message posted by Hank on June 11, 2002 at 18:37:07 PST:

Yucca Mount

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www.mapscience .org

Tuesday, June 11, 2002
Copyright Las Vegas Review-Journal

YUCCA MOUNTAIN: Internet site tracks paths to repository
Group draws upon DOE information about proposed transportation routes


WASHINGTON -- An environmental group unveils a tool on the Internet today that allows people to learn how close nuclear waste might pass by their neighborhoods and schools if it were to be shipped to a repository in Nevada.

The www.mapscience.org Web site was built by the Environmental Working Group. The Washington, D.C.-based organization is challenging the Department of Energy's plan to transport 77,000 tons of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel along railways and highways to Yucca Mountain 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas beginning in 2010.

Besides locating their communities along possible waste paths, users can learn how far they live from power plants and other nuclear waste generators.

They also can access distances between possible spent fuel shipping routes and schools and hospitals.

The site also provides information on shipping aspects of the government's nuclear waste program, drawing on Transportation Department databases of train and truck wrecks and DOE's final Yucca Mountain environmental study.

It also links to information developed by Nevada-paid experts who have recommended the project be set aside until more studies are done on transportation security.

In its environmental impact report, the Energy Department identified potential truck and rail routes to Yucca Mountain but DOE officials have said routes won't be cemented until four years before a proposed repository opening in 2010.

"We want to get people engaged in this debate," said Richard Wiles, senior vice president of Environmental Working Group. "People have the right to know whether nuclear waste is coming through their community.

The project was funded with $200,000 from Las Vegas Sun editor Brian Greenspun plus support from foundations that provide the Environmental Working Group with its regular operating funds, spokeswoman Laura Chapin said.

Energy Department spokesman Joe Davis said that if the Yucca site is built, transportation routes will be classified and developed in conjunction with state and local officials.

Davis said the department has no objections to the Web site "as long as it reflects the facts and doesn't try to scare anybody."

Steve Kerekes, a spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute, questioned why the site would single out nuclear shipments that won't take place for years and ignore the more than 1 million shipments of hazardous materials, from toxic chemicals to gasoline, now traveling by rail and truck.

The Environmental Working Group is the same organization that developed an Internet database last year that enabled users to learn the identities of people who have been collecting farm subsidy payments from the government.

During debate on a major farm policy bill, the database was cited frequently by members of Congress who argued U.S. farm policy was hurting small growers and the environment.

Wiles said Monday that the nuclear waste project "may be more grand in some ways" than the farm subsidy database because it was a more complicated undertaking.

Wiles said the mapping also reveals that 38,497,000 people live within one mile of a proposed nuclear waste route, while 109,124,000 people live within five miles.

Nevada officials have calculated that more than 123 million people live in the 703 counties traversed by proposed highway routes, while 106 million live in counties along possible rail routes.

The Energy Department has predicted between 10.4 million and 16.4 million people will live within a half-mile of a transportation route in 2035, when shipments will be in full swing.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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