For two decades, a ridge of volcanic rock 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas known as Yucca Mountain has been the sole focus of government plans to store highly radioactive nuclear waste.
Despite the $13.5 billion that has been spent on the project, the Obama administration says it's going in a different direction.
It slashed funding for Yucca Mountain in its recently announced budget.
And on Thursday, Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a Senate hearing that the Yucca Mountain site no longer was viewed as an option for storing reactor waste, brushing aside criticism from several Republican lawmakers.
Instead, Chu said the Obama administration believes the nearly 60,000 tons of used reactor fuel can remain at nuclear power plants while a new, comprehensive plan for waste disposal is developed.
Obama's 2010 budget calls for scrapping all spending on Yucca Mountain except for what is needed to answer questions from the NRC on the license application "while the administration devises a new strategy toward nuclear waste disposal."
Now I'm torn here.
There have been some less than reassuring bits coming out of the Yucca Mountain Project. There are a few geology 'hmmms.' However, some of that is equivocal.
On the other hand, this is a case of without this, the nuke industry restart will stall at best. Nuclear waste needs a long term solution. In 4, 8 years we're not likely to have a replacement for burying it, unless Dr Chu has an ace up his sleeve. (which I doubt) Since this is one of the known technology ways we can fight global warming, it's rather depressing that Obama has decided to go this route.
Someone's gonna get 'screwed.' NM has already taken in the WIPP. NV, being one of the least populated and uninhabitable states, needs to pony up.
However, my irritation and depression from this decision aside: Senator McCain, knock-off the "Mr Chu" bit. While Chu doesn't have PhD-itis, if you want to be formal with him, the man's damn well earned his doctorate and a Nobel Prize. Some modicum of respect is required and has been freakin earned. Dr Chu it ought to be. Or should we start referring to you as 'Mr McCain' from now on?