NIRS - Letter to Sen. Dole
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
1424 16th Street NW, #404
Washington, DC 20036
202-328-0002; fax: 202-462-2183
April 16, 1996
Hon. Robert Dole
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Majority Leader Dole:
We are dismayed and outraged to learn that a Senate floor vote
on S. 1271 (Craig, R-Idaho) tentatively has been scheduled for
April 25 or 26, 1996.
As you know, April 26, 1996 is the tenth anniversary of the
Chernobyl nuclear accident--a disaster that has grown larger
with time. It is an anniversary that merits sober reflection on
the terrible consequences of the nuclear age, and respect for
the tens of thousands of people who have lost their homes, their
land, and their lives.
Instead, we apparently will be treated to the spectacle of a
Senate vote on the U.S. nuclear power industry's latest
"not-in-my-back-yard" scheme--a bill which has been quite aptly
dubbed the "Mobile Chernobyl Act."
S. 1271 addresses the ongoing and enormous problem of
radioactive waste by moving the problem from the nuclear
utilities to taxpayers. The bill would establish an "interim"
radioactive waste storage site near Yucca Mountain, Nevada, and
begin the unprecedented transport of high-level radioactive
waste through 43 states and the District of Columbia; through
dozens of cities and across our nation's agricultural heartland.
Once the waste left the utility sites, where it is now, title to
and liability for that waste would transfer from the utilities
to the taxpayers. All this because nuclear utilities don't want
to pay for storage of their own waste, and, like everyone else,
don't want it in their own backyards.
S. 1271 would be an insult to the American people at any time.
Holding this vote on the 10th anniversary of Chernobyl is
contemptuous and demonstrates a serious lack of understanding of
the lessons of Chernobyl.
Writing in the April 1996 issue of Scientific American, Yuri
Shcherbak, Ukraine's Ambassador to the United States, said,
"Chornobyl [Ukrainian spelling] was not simply another disaster
of the sort that humankind has experienced throughout history,
like a fire or an earthquake or a flood. It is a global
environmental event of a new kind. It is characterized by the
presence of thousands of environmental refugees; long-term
contamination of land, water and air; and possibly irreparable
damage to ecosystems. Chornobyl demonstrates the ever growing
threat of technology run amok."
S. 1271 ignores the lessons of Chernobyl. The high-level nuclear
waste that would be transported across our nation's railways and
highways contains 95% of the radioactivity ever created in the
U.S. Before we begin such a risky endeavor, we had better be
sure that the first transport of this deadly material is the
last. Moving the waste to an "interim" site, even as evidence is
growing that Yucca Mountain is not suitable for permanent
disposal, could be a catastrophic mistake.
We must avoid a Mobile Chernobyl in the United States. The best
way to do that is to not rush into nuclear industry schemes to
avoid liability for their own waste products.
A fitting commemoration of Chernobyl's 10th anniversary would be
for you to announce that S. 1271 will never reach the Senate
floor. At the very least, out of respect for the victims of
commercial nuclear technology, we urge you to postpone this vote
to a more appropriate time.
Nuclear Information and