MAYORS OPPOSE DUMP IN NEVADA
by J.R. Ross
June 15, 2002
Madison, Wis. - A committee of mayors voted Saturday to oppose
transporting high-level nuclear waste to a national repository unless
federal officials can guarantee the safety of all cities along proposed
The resolution adopted on an unanimous voice vote stopped short of
opposing the creation of a nuclear waste repository in Nevada's Yucca
Mountain. Three Western mayors had urged their counterparts earlier in
the day to oppose the repository, saying that shipping radioactive waste
to the site would threaten the entire country.
Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said an earthquake centered 12.5 miles
from the proposed site at Yucca Mountain on Friday reinforced his
concern that the site was unsafe for storing nuclear waste.
"That's our problem," Goodman told the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
"The nation, however, has a problem with transportation."
Goodman, Salt Lake City Mayor Ross Anderson and Reno, Nev., Mayor
Jeff Griffin said the federal government had not done enough to study
the risks posed by shipping nuclear waste to the proposed site by
highway or rail.
The federal plan would bury 77,000 tons of nuclear waste in tunnels
inside Yucca Mountain, where it would remain radioactive for more than
10,000 years. The House has already approved the plan; the Senate has to
vote on it by July 26.
The conference energy committee's resolution calls on Congress to
prohibit moving high-level nuclear waste until cities along its route
have adequate funding, training and equipment in the event of an
accident. The full conference was expected to vote on the resolution
The conference, which drew about 250 mayors, includes a series of
meetings on issues ranging from affordable housing to the environment.
The mayors also approved a resolution urging Washington to
distribute homeland security block grants directly to cities and
counties. President Bush has proposed sending about $3.5 billion in such
grants to states, with three-fourths of it targeted for local
"There should be no middlemen. It should go directly to the cities,"
said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, a Democrat who is president of the
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson told the mayors
that distributing money through the states was the quickest way.
He noted that before states could receive the money, their plans for
spending it had to be approved by the federal government.
"If we had to do this with all of the cities, we probably wouldn't
have been able to do it," said Thompson, who was governor of Wisconsin
for 14 years.
A survey of 122 mayors found that three-fourths were concerned about
the threat of a chemical or biological attack, and almost four out of
five said they had inadequate funding to detect threats.
Three out of four said they do not have enough money for emergency
response equipment or programs to protect city infrastructure.
Also scheduled to speak at the conference, which started Friday, are
Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge and FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh.
The mayors' international affairs committee put off a vote on a
resolution urging the administration to lift the trade embargo against
Cuba and restore diplomatic relations.
The mayors met under tight security, with the city closing nearby
streets as well as the shore of Lake Monona that borders the front of
the convention center. Police outnumbered the handful of protesters,
many of whom favored legalization of marijuana, who gathered down the
block from the meeting.
Conference of Mayors: www.usmayors.org
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