Friday, July 29, 2011

Citizens in Western N.C. worried about nuclear waste

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 12:44 PM

Three Mile Island, Circa 1999
  • (Photo credit: Matte Chi)
  • Three Mile Island, Circa 1999

It may be a little premature, but citizens in Western North Carolina are busy reminding folks about their fights to keep nuclear waste out of their area some 30 years ago, all while issuing warnings that the stuff could head their way any day now.

From The Macon County News:

From Remember the nuclear waste debates of the 1980s? Remember the panic after Three Mile Island, a nuclear power station on an island in the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, Penn., which after a reactor core meltdown in 1979 released highly radioactive gas into the environment? Remember the protests and pickets? Remember how the consensus in the country regarding the clear dangers of nuclear power led to the cancelation of all new nuclear power projects for decades?

Some in Western North Carolina, those who are able to remember all the way back to those glory years of muscle cars and Reaganomics, may even recall Sandy Mush and a local protest campaign to keep nuclear waste from being trucked into our mountains and dumped here. Farmers, business owners and local governments all united in sending a big, loud “NO” to Washington officials who were considering locations in the region as potentially acceptable sites for a national nuclear waste depository. At the time, it seemed the protests had worked. Nationally, nuclear power was on the wane. Washington regulators turned their gaze west to sites like Yucca Mountain in Nevada as potential memory holes for the nation's toxic and ever-lasting nuclear waste, and most folks in Western North Carolina happily forgot that their own back yard had once been a prime candidate.

Mary Olson hasn’t forgotten, however. And Olson, the regional director for the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), an organization that advocates for a “non-nuclear future,” has some bad news: The past has come back to haunt us.

At a recent “Eco-Friday” forum at Franklin’s Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Olson informed the small audience that, with the current administration's resurgent emphasis on nuclear power as a means to reduce the country's dependence on fossil fuels and with Yucca Mountain having been abandoned as a viable nuke dump, all the old plans are back on the table and being seriously reconsidered.

“We’re back to where we started; it's the same story,” said Olson, a biologist and biochemist by training who has worked with NIRS since 1991. This week the first draft recommendations of a federal commission on nuclear energy are due out. Olson cautioned to be prepared for more flashbacks to come.

Read the rest of this article, by Christopher Carpenter, here.

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