President Bush Recommends Yucca Mountain to Congress

Bush's Plan for U.S. Nuclear Stockpile Contradicts Nuclear Posture Review

* President George Bush this week officially recommended to Congress the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada as the nation's official high-level nuclear waste repository. Bush's statement claimed that the recommendation is the culmination of 20 years of intense scientific scrutiny necessary to ensure the health, safety and security of the people of Nevada and the nation as a whole. Nevada leaders promptly responded by filing a lawsuit claiming that Bush's decision was based on a flawed recommendation by the Department of Energy and asking that it be set aside.

Bush's letter to Congress argued that "this project would isolate in a geologic repository at a remote location highly radioactive materials now scattered throughout the Nation ... [and] would support our national security through disposal of nuclear waste from our defense facilities." Bush cited that nuclear energy is the second highest source of U.S. electricity generation and "has none of the emissions associated with coal and gas power plants."

Rather, said Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (or IEER), nuclear power plants have produced more than 40,000 tons of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel which must now be shipped through 43 states, an estimated 53,000 truckloads, to Yucca Mountain. A number of organizations have for years voiced opposition to the President's recommendation, including IEER, the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability and Citizen Alert, an activist group based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Kalynda Tilges, of Citizen Alert, said, "In approving the Secretary's recommendation, President Bush has insulted and betrayed the people of Nevada ... He has put the health and safety of all Americans at risk. You can be sure the people of Nevada and the rest of the country will not sit back and let this happen."

Native American Exposure to Radiation in the Northwest May Be Higher than Estimated

A report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (or NRDC) this week claims that President Bush's plans for the U.S. nuclear stockpile contradicts the Nuclear Posture Review (or NPR) which was completed by Bush's administration in January.

The NPR recommended diminished U.S. dependence on nuclear weapons. However, the NRDC report claims that the Bush administration is assuming that nuclear weapons will be a part of the U.S. military force for at least 50 years. Bush also plans to modernize many of the currently existing weapons. According to the report, the NPR and the Department of Defense (or DoD) claim that "Nuclear weapons will continue to play a 'critical role' because they possess 'unique properties' that provide 'credible military options'..."

The NPR recommended that the nation's nuclear arsenal be reduced from 6,000 weapons to approximately 2,000. However, the NRDC estimates that the arsenal will in fact increase to as many as 15,000 weapons. According to the report, the administration intends to revitalize the U.S. nuclear infrastructure to "discourage" other countries from "competing militarily with the United States." The report states that "not since [the Cold War] has there been such an emphasis on nuclear weapons in the U.S. defense strategy."

The report specifies that DoD is expecting to reestablish warhead concept design teams at each of its three laboratories, including Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories.

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