YUCCA FIGHT GETS LIFT FROM CELEBRITIES
by Benjamin Grove
Las Vegas Sun -- June 4, 2002
Washington -- A band of 70 celebrities led by former "M*A*S*H" star
Mike Farrell today joined the fight against Yucca Mountain, one day
before a Senate panel is likely to approve it.
"It's now or never, in some instances," Farrell said. "Now is the
time to say (to Congress): It's time to do your job."
Farrell chatted with reporters in the Capitol today before planned
meetings with six senators: Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.; Richard Durbin,
D-Ill.; Russell Feingold, D-Wis.; Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; Patrick Leahy,
D-Vt.; and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. Stabenow and Leahy have said they
support Yucca; the others are likely to oppose it.
Farrell brought a letter signed by 70 other personalities, mostly
actors and musicians, including actors Richard Dreyfuss, Anthony
Edwards, Melissa Gilbert, Danny Glover, Camryn Manheim, Carl and Rob
Reiner, Tim Robbins, Bradley Whitford and Farrell's former "M*A*S*H"
co-stars Jamie Farr and Loretta Swit. Others on the list: singer and
actor Harry Belafonte, singer Barbra Streisand and disc jockey Casey
Farrell, who now stars in NBC's "Providence," said his opposition to
nuclear power started 30 years ago, when he actively opposed the
construction of a California nuclear plant. He has followed the Yucca
issue largely in the media, he said.
Farrell said he decided to come to Washington to use his familiar
face to lobby against the controversial Nevada nuclear waste dump on the
eve of a Yucca vote by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Committee. The full Senate is expected to vote -- and likely approve
Yucca -- next month.
Farrell said it took him only a week or so to enlist the help of
fellow celebrities by e-mail, phone and fax.
"These are just people but they happen to be celebrities," Farrell
said. "For some reason, people seem to pay attention to celebrities."
Farrell, a longtime human rights and environmental activist, said he
objected to Yucca, because he believes it is not a safe place to build a
national repository for high-level nuclear waste. He also believes that
shipping waste from nuclear plants and other temporary waste storage
sites to Nevada risks accidents and terrorist attacks.
"A crash or terrorist attack involving even one of these shipments
through any one of our communities could be catastrophic, yet the
Department of Energy's Yucca Mountain recommendation lacks a detailed
plan for ensuring the safety of these shipments," the celebrities'
Farrell advocates securing waste where it is, mostly stored in
cooling pools and in dry, above-ground casks at nuclear power plants.
Nuclear industry officials say that is not a permanent solution, and
point to a government promise to haul the waste away to Nevada.
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., chatted with Farrell for a few minutes in a
small office in the Capitol, thanking him for his help. The
environmental group Public Citizen helped Farrell organize the trip.
Farrell said he hoped to talk to more senators, and planned to urge
other celebrities to do the same.
"(Senators) are under a lot of pressure from the administration to
go their way," Farrell said.
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