Letter - State Chamber supports Yucca Mountain plan

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

To the Editor:

Congress soon will debate legislation that will determine whether the federal government proceeds with plans to build a permanent repository for spent nuclear fuel at one site designed for safe, permanent storage or continue to use dozens of sites around the country designed only for temporary storage.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce has sent letters to Missouri's congressional delegation to urge support for legislation overriding Nevada's veto of plans for a permanent nuclear repository at Yucca Mountain.

The temporary storage sites at nuclear power plants were not designed as long-term solutions for used nuclear fuel. The federal government was required, by law, to store the waste at a permanent site. It selected Yucca Mountain, a site that has been studied for more than 20 years and that can safely contain the waste for hundreds of years.

Much concern has been raised about transportation of waste from Yucca Mountain. However, no plans for routes to Yucca Mountain have been finalized, and states will have opportunities for input on transportation plans, including the timing and routing of shipments.

Missouri's Emergency Management Agency and emergency responders have in place a highly effective emergency response system that will protect citizens and the environment in the unlikely event of an accident.

Derailing Yucca Mountain over concerns about transportation, which will be addressed separately, is simply wrong. If Congress does not pass the Yucca Mountain legislation, nuclear waste will be left at numerous sites around the country, including several in Missouri, in spaces designed only for temporary storage.

Electricity consumers, including many of the businesses our organization represents, have paid for a federal repository through a tax, included in their rates, that goes into the federal nuclear waste fund. This fund was created to facilitate a federal program to accept and store spent nuclear fuel. In fact, Missouri consumers already have almost $200 million into the nuclear waste fund.

It is time to see a return on that investment and to secure permanent storage for spent nuclear fuel.

Daniel P. Mehan

president and CEO

Missouri Chamber of Commerce

Jefferson City

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