Critical Yucca Mountain Action Contact: Kalynda Tilges, Citizen Alert,
Posted: Tuesday, May 28, 2002

President Bush has approved Yucca Mountain for highly radioactive waste.

Senate Poised To Vote On Yucca Mt. Project

Once the veto is sent to Congress the project is dead unless both houses vote to override the veto by simple majority. Congress has 90 days after the veto is issued to vote on a "resolution of repository siting approval," which represents the veto override vote.

Congressional resolution on the Yucca Mountain Project is expected by the end of July.

Before any vote we need to get as many senators in congress to vote with Nevada against the "resolution of repository siting approval."

This is a crucial time to become activists to defeat the Yucca Mountain Project in congress. It is vital that we support our elected officials and contact people outside of Nevada. We are in a good position to stop the project. The facts speak for themselves, and the case against Yucca Mountain is strong.

Our best chance to defeat the Yucca Mountain Project is in the Senate, primarily by raising awareness on the transportation of the waste, because Yucca Mountain is in everybody's back yard. Inside you will find a national transportation map and a contact list of senators by state. Please contact everyone you know outside of Nevada. Have them contact their senators and tell them to uphold Nevada's veto. The Yucca Mt. Project is not safe, for Nevada or the Nation. Those senators need to hear from their own constituents to vote against the "resolution of repository siting approval."

Specifically, what you can do:

(1) Send letters of support to our elected officials in opposition to the project. (see sample letters)

(2) Convince people in other states to tell their senators to uphold Nevada's veto.

Ideal timeline for action item (2):

Now: make a list of people and their phone numbers you know who do not live in Nevada; this will be your potential calling/writing list.

Now to June 15- send out letters to your lists with an introductory note indicating why you have sent the letter, a copy of the transportation map, the Yucca Mountain facts on the back page, and the information on their senators.

June 15 to June 30-call your lists to make sure the information made it and see if they have contacted their senators. If long distance calls are a hardship feel free to set up a time to use Citizen Alert phones.

TOLL FREE NUMBER TO CONTACT SENATORS! 1.888.554.9256 This number will connect you to someone who will then patch you through to the appropriate senator.

SAMPLE LETTERS Feel free to use the fact sheet included here. A detailed transportation map is available for viewing and download at Contact Citizen Alert if you need more of anything.
P.O.B. 17173
Las Vegas, NV 89114
Voice: 702.796.5662 Fax: 702.796.4886

Sample letter to Nevada Congressional Delegation

Dear Senator,

Thank you for all your work opposing the Yucca Mountain Project. I know it is a difficult battle in Washington DC with many other senators who apparently want nuclear waste to come our state. I think a lot of people outside Nevada don't know how this project will impact them, so many of your colleagues may be voting without all the facts or think that Yucca Mountain will solve our radioactive waste problem. We know Yucca Mountain is not safe and transporting the waste needlessly subjects people across America to potential radiation exposure. I encourage you to do all you can to inform your colleagues and use your best skills in DC to put an end to this dangerous project. I am one of the majority of Nevadans who support your efforts to shut down the Yucca Mountain Project.


Sample letter for someone writing to their congressional delegation outside of Nevada

Dear Senator,

I am writing to ask you to support Nevada Senator Harry Reid in upholding Nevada's veto of Yucca Mountain as a federal repository for high-level nuclear waste. It is my understanding that Yucca Mountain is not a safe place for nuclear waste. I know the Department of Energy (DOE) has recommended Yucca Mountain, but I do not believe all of the bases are covered. It would not be the first time an agency of the federal government proposed something that isn't right. The "60 Minutes" report dated March 17, 2002 revealed the inability of the DOE to properly manage its own weapons production sites. As you can see from this map, there will be waste coming through our state for many years at a much greater rate than has ever been transported before. Apparently, these transportation containers will be leaking radiation as they move through our state; I don't like that much. We are unprepared for a serious accident here. According to the DOE there will be thousands of these shipments over 20 to 30 years, which seems like a big terrorist threat. How can we possibly guard these shipments from attack? Further, I understand that the waste can be stored safely where it is made with no additional risk. [If you live in one of the following states; OR, UT, WY, IN, OK, KY, WV please add this sentence: We don't even make any of the waste here, why should we be exposed to the risks of transporting this material.]

Please vote against the "resolution of repository siting approval" on Yucca Mountain as a national nuclear waste repository.


Complete list of Senators and their contact information.



Yucca Mountain is 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas Nevada, the fastest growing city in the nation. Twelve miles from the proposed repository is a community that contains the state's largest dairy farm, which provides milk to over 30 million people in the southwestern U.S. Overwhelmingly, Nevadans reject a nuclear dump at Yucca Mt., and people nationwide are concerned over the possibility of nuclear waste being transported through their communities. Congress should vote NO on the resolution to make Yucca Mountain the nation's first high-level nuclear dump.

THE PROPOSAL: 1) transport 77,000 tons of highly radioactive waste (about 11 billion curies)1 from commercial and military sites through 43 states to Yucca Mt. Nevada. 2) once at Yucca Mt., the waste will be transferred into disposal casks and loaded into a facility less than 500 ft. above a pristine aquifer, the lifeblood of many desert communities (including the dairy farm). By law, the repository is required to isolate the radioactivity for 10,000 years.

POLITICS OVER SCIENCE: Serious shortcomings of the site have been found. To avoid disqualification of Yucca Mt.:

  • EPA had to write Yucca Mt. specific standards, since the radioactive carbon-14 releases from the repository would exceed the existing EPA standards
  • DOE had to rewrite its rules (site suitability guidelines) because the estimated groundwater travel time from Yucca Mt. was fast enough to be a disqualifying condition in the original rules. Even with the above changes the DOE's repository performance analysis has been called into question:
  • In a Sept. 18, 2001 letter, from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste to NRC chairman Meserve concluded that the DOE models did not provide a basis for estimating performance.
  • On Jan. 24, 2002, the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (NWTRB) stated: "... the Board's view is that the technical basis for the DOE's repository performance estimate is weak to moderate at this time."


  • Yucca Mt. is in a volcanic area, where an eruption could cause catastrophic release of radioactivity.
  • The region is a class 4 earthquake zone, second only to California and Alaska in seismic activity.
  • Water will infiltrate the repository and can move radioactivity to drinking water in 100 to 500 years.3
  • Yucca Mt. is estimated to provide only about 0.3% containment of the waste over the 10,000 years, the other 95% will be by the disposal casks; contrary to the NWPA's intent that the site is to provide primary containment.
  • The geochemical environment of the site is oxidizing, and will corrode the metal containers.


  • 50 million people live within one-half mile of the transportation routes for the estimated 53,000 truck shipments or the 10,700 mostly rail shipments.2 About 35 times more waste would be shipped each year than has ever previously been transported.3
  • People near transportation corridors will receive regular radiation exposures - from 6 to 960 millirem1 annually depending on distance from the routes and number of shipments.2, 3
  • There will be dozens to hundreds of accidents. A severe accident in an urban area would cause latent cancer fatalities - 312 or 356-4323 and cost $63-108 billion.3
  • Consequences of a successful terrorist attack in an urban area: latent cancer fatalities - 152 or 6-1653; and cost - $13.5 to 20.9 billion.3
  • People near transportation corridors should expect a reduction in property values.

CURRENT STATUS: On February 15, 2002 President Bush submitted the DOE's Yucca Mt. recommendation to Congress. Nevada vetoed the decision. If Congress overrides Nevada's veto, the DOE would be required to file a license application for the repository with the NRC within 90 days, even though a December 2001 GAO report stated that the DOE would not be ready to submit a site recommendation until 2006. The House just overturned the veto, the Senate is expected to vote by the first week in July.

ALTERNATIVE TO YUCCA MT.: Yucca Mt. provides no solution to the problem of nuclear waste since there will always be spent fuel in the cooling pools as long as the plants operate. Improved on-site facilities can be built, which the NRC says would be safe for decades. The DOE has offered to pay for these on-site facilities out of the Nuclear Waste Fund, but the utilities companies have not accepted this proposal.

1 one curie = 37 billion radioactive emissions per second; for comparison, Three Mile Island released about 5 curies and Chernobyl is estimated at 80 million curies. 10 millirem exposure is roughly equivalent to one chest x-ray.
2 Department of Energy, Final Environmental Impact Statement, February 2002.
3 State of Nevada independent contract studies

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