Letter: Editorial about Hanford was off base



As acting executive director of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, I’m responding to the May 23 editorial, “Focus on Hanford.” It is the height of hypocrisy to suggest that “it’s time to take the politics out of the Yucca Mountain project and return to the solid science that supports the extensively researched plan.”

In 1987, Washington and other states with potentially suitable repository sites used their own political power to get their sites off the hook, and now you have suddenly decided it’s time for science to trump politics. If science had been permitted to carry the day back in 1987, Yucca Mountain would never have been selected. Would Washington have put up with the treatment Nevada has received from the federal government?

This editorial is also wrong on another key point — having a repository anywhere will not eliminate risks at nuclear power plants from spent fuel cooling pools, like in Fukushima, Japan. Because spent fuel must be stored in water-filled pools for at least five years, there will always be fuel in pools at reactor sites. The problem is that utility companies have been overstocking pools with older fuel because it’s cheaper than moving fuel to safe, passive dry storage that virtually eliminates risks of accidents like the one in Japan.

Joseph C. Strolin

Carson City, Nev.