For Immediate Release
April 16, 2002
Location: Lot North of Albuquerque Board of Realtors at 1635 University Boulevard NE, Big-I as backdrop

Contact:Gregory S. Green
National Environmental Trust
(505) 293-4343 or 280-9545

Peggy Prince
(505) 989-4812

Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety
(505) 986-1973

3,999 Truck Shipments to Travel Through New Mexico
Congress Should Not Support President Bush's High-Level Nuclear Waste Plan

New Mexico - Today the National Environmental Trust, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety and the Los Alamos Action Network called on members of Congress to reject President Bush's plan to transport 77,000 tons of radioactive waste to Nevada's Yucca Mountain

"The President's plan would drive radioactive waste within one mile of more than 50 million Americans (or through cities and towns, near schools and churches)," said Gregory Green of the National Environmental Trust. "That's like shipping a ticking time bomb to every major city in America and just hoping it doesn't go off."

The nuclear waste would be shipped in concrete casks primarily by truck on our nation's highways. According to the Department of Energy the shipments would pass through 44 states and the District of Columbia on its way to Yucca Mountain with 3,999 casks traveling through New Mexico. Since the Nuclear Regulatory Commission allows these casks to emit radiation equivalent to a chest x-ray (10 mrem/h) at 6/5 feet from the cask surface, millions of Americans would be exposed to doses of radiation.

There are also questions about the safety of the site itself. Scientists have been unable to demonstrate that Yucca Mountain could effectively isolate waste throughout the time it remains dangerously radioactive. During the 2001 Presidential Campaigns, President Bush said that he would base his decision on "sound science." His statement partially neurtralized nuclear waste as an issue in Nevada and many feel it helped him win Nevada's crucial 4 electoral votes. (Bush only won the 2000 election by 2 electoral votes.)

During the summer of 1999, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety (CCNS) and the New Mexico Department of Public Health surveyed the emergency responders from Raton to Carlsbad to find out if they were prepared to respond to a WIPP accident. The survey results found that, despite years of effort to train and equip them, most of the emergency responders were volunteers and that a large majority of them needed more equipment, training and written policies and procedure in order to respond to a WIPP accident. (These results were for transuranic nuclear waste. Yucca Mountain would include high-level.)

"Emergency responders would either be largely unprepared, or state and local governments that already have stretched budgets will not be able to provide all the necessary government services would have to fund training and equipment," said Joni Arends of Concerned Citizend for Nuclear Safety.

"If a fictitious subplot of the TV show West Wing can get the attention of the Secretary of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources and the Governor of New Mexico, imagine the pandemonium a blow-out and rollover of a nuclear waste-carrying semi would cause anywhere near the Big-I," Green said.

"The President should honor the promise he made when running for president and let the science dictate the policy, not the politics," concluded Peggy Prince of Peace Action Network. "Rushing the decision on Yucca Mountain isn't good for the people of Nevada or the people of New Mexico.

View the complete results from the CCNS and New Mexico Department of Public Health survey of emergency responders