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A Disaster Waiting To Happen

August 4, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 31

As a resident of Montague, Mass., within the nuclear evacuation zone of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, Vt., I am concerned about the potential hazards of nuclear waste as reported in “Decades for Decommissioning” in C&EN (June 2, page 22). Jeff Johnson did an excellent job of highlighting the real concerns about nuclear waste being stored on-site at nuclear plants, as well as the quagmire over regulation that exists between the local, state, and federal governments.

Nuclear power would be a safe energy source—not necessarily a cheap one—if a central waste repository could be established in the U.S. However, the federal government has had more than 25 years and $2 billion to study the proposed Yucca Mountain site in Nevada and others.

The federal government and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have failed to solve the radioactive-waste-disposal problem. A disaster at any one of the existing or decommissioned nuclear reactor sites could be lurking. In my neighborhood, I am concerned that a major flood along the Connecticut River, similar to the one in 1936 that destroyed numerous bridges, could happen again and cause a nuclear waste disaster at the Vernon site, which rests on a riverbank.

It’s time that politicians put national security safety above parochial politics and solve this problem. Let’s stop building new nuclear plants until a safe, underground nuclear waste repository is established at a remote location.

Frank T. Traceski
Montague, Mass.

I wonder how many C&EN readers read “Decades for Decommissioning” with the sickening feeling that thousands of people living near nuclear energy plants are in grave danger because highly radioactive spent-fuel elements are in storage there in “swimming-pool-like structures.”

The situation is made more irrational when we have a highly safe storage facility at Yucca Mountain, in Nevada. This facility has been extensively researched and practically guaranteed to be safe for thousands of years. Taxpayers have spent millions of dollars on this facility, and yet it continues to stand empty and unused.

My understanding of this unbelievable situation is that it is due to the willpower of a few politicians including Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Please prepare a detailed analysis of this deplorable situation.

Frank J. Loprest
Holland, Pa.



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