Strickland opposes shipments
By Lynn Bartels, News Staff Writer
June 3, 2002

U.S. Senate candidate Tom Strickland appealed to Coloradans on Sunday to voice their opposition to loads of nuclear waste passing through the state on the way to Nevada.

Strickland said various routes suggested by the Department of Energy show the waste headed for Nevada going through Colorado by rail or by truck, including along Interstate 70.

"After Sept. 11, we know that terrorists are capable of committing previously unthinkable heinous acts," Strickland said.

"Each one of the (truck or train) shipments could be turned into a 'dirty bomb' creating unspeakable devastation."

To emphasize the risk, the Democratic candidate, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Wayne Allard, stood outside his headquarters at Interstate 25 and East 58th Avenue as traffic whizzed by.

He was joined by U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and an 18-wheel truck carrying a model of a cask that would carry nuclear waste.

The U.S. Senate this summer is expected to vote on whether to permanently store spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste in a tomb under Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., has joined with Democrats in opposing the opening of the facility. Allard has sided with Republicans by supporting it.

Allard believes the waste belongs in a permanent storage facility built for that purpose instead of in temporary tanks around the country, said his spokesman, Sean Conway.

"Some of these temporary facilities are close to high-population, high-density areas. It doesn't make sense," Conway said, adding that one temporary facility is located 40 miles north of Denver.

Conway said the DOE was required to put major interstates on the map for potential routes, but it is unlikely anyone would want nuclear waste going through mountain passes on I-70.

Strickland's not so sure. He pointed out the Senate vote is scheduled before final routes will be selected.

Several environmental groups cheered as Strickland voiced his opposition.

"We're concerned about the unintended consequences of the Yucca Mountain site," said Carmi McLean, Colorado director of Clean Water Action. "The geology is unstable and the water table is only 300 meters below the repository site."

McLean and Reid said the nuclear lobby has been successful in pushing for the opening of Yucca Mountain.

Nuclear producers are worried about liability, McLean said. As long as the waste remains in temporary sites, the producers are liable should something happen. Once that waste is moved to trucks or to a permanent site, then taxpayers are liable.

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