Opening the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Storage Facility is Important to National Security; Action Would Eliminate the Only Serious Vulnerability of Nuclear Plants to Terrorism

Moving America’s nuclear waste to a safe storage facility in Yucca Mountain, Nevada – as was proposed January 10 by Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham – would make an important contribution to national security according to a study, “Terrorism and Nuclear Power: What are the Risks?,” prepared for The National Center for Public Policy Research by nuclear physicists George S. Stanford and Gerald E. Marsh.

The National Center study found that nuclear waste, which is now in storage ponds at the nation’s nuclear power plants around the country, is the only significant vulnerability of our nation’s nuclear facilities.

“American electricity consumers have been paying for the Yucca Mountain storage facility for years,” according to Tom Randall, director of The National Center’s George P. McGovern Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs. “To build and operate it, the federal government has been collecting fees on all electricity generated by nuclear energy. Yet, the waste remains in temporary storage pools at nuclear power plants around the country for purely political reasons.” So far, the Department of Energy has spent $8 billion on the project; ending it now would be the equivalent of throwing the money away.

If President Bush approves Abraham’s proposal, Nevada would then have 60 days to reject it. If the governor and legislature of Nevada reject the proposal — and the governor has already profanely indicted that he will do so — the final decision goes to Congress, which can approve it with a simple majority in both houses. A spokesman for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, said the approval “will move expeditiously” through the House. However, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) opposes the measure.

The John P. McGovern, MD Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs is a project of The National Center For Public Policy Research, a non-partisan, non-profit education foundation. For more information, contact Tom Randall at 773-857-5086 or [email protected]. A copy of National Policy Analysis #374: “Terrorism and Nuclear Power: What are the Risks?,” is available online at, or by request.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.