FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 5, 2008
McCain: Not Comfortable With Nuclear Waste Through Arizona, But Just Fine for 44 Other States
Washington, D.C.--As John McCain is paying a visit today to the Enrico Fermi nuclear generating station in Monroe, Michigan he can be expected to tout his costly plan to build 45 new nuclear plants by 2030 and 55 more after that. This plan would effectively double the number of nuclear reactors and the amount of dangerous high-level nuclear waste that would need to be transported across the country.
The Sierra Club is today calling attention to the YouTube video that surfaced earlier this year which shows John McCain clearly saying—while shaking his head 'no'--that he would not be comfortable with nuclear waste traveling through his own home state of Arizona on its way to the unsafe and unproven Yucca Mountain site--something for which John McCain has been one of the Senate’s biggest proponents.
The video can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPlaHQCKc34
Transcript (beginning at 1:14): Interviewer: What about the transportation? Would you be comfortable with nuclear waste coming through Arizona on its way, you know going through Phoenix, on its way to uh Yucca Mountain? McCain (Shaking Head): "No, I would not. No, I would not."
"Why does John McCain think it's ok for 77,000 tons of dangerous nuclear waste to go through some 44 other states but yet too dangerous to go through his own home state?" said Cathy Duvall, Sierra Club National Political Director. "John McCain simply can’t have it both ways when it comes to the nuclear waste issue. It's hypocritical and unfair that he supports running hundreds of shipments of dangerous nuclear waste through 44 states and sticking Nevadans with 77,000 tons of it forever, while at the same time saying he’s uncomfortable with it going through his own backyard for even a day."
The Sierra Club also pointed out that the very nuclear plant that Senator McCain is visiting today partially melted down in 1966. Indeed, the term "China Syndrome"—a nuclear reactor melting down and going “all the way to China”—was coined as a result of the incident. It also gave rise to both a book and song (performed at the original Musicians for Safe Energy/No Nukes concerts in the 1970s) entitled "We Almost Lost Detroit." More recently, the operating reactor, Fermi II, experienced a leak in 2005 and the decommissioned reactor, Fermi I, caught fire just this past May.
John McCain supports the Bush administration’s plan to store our nation's nuclear waste at the unsafe and unproven Yucca mountain site--a white elephant that has wasted two decades and billions of taxpayer dollars. A plan to transport the waste released by the State of Nevada based on Department of Energy plans details the likely rail, truck, and barge routes that high-level waste would take on its way to Yucca Mountain. Approximately 15,000 casks of waste would travel through at least 45 states. Each cask would transport between 2 and 15 tons of high-level waste. In total, the dangerous waste would travel through more than 703 counties in 45 states. More than 123 million people live along the proposed truck routes alone. And more than 10 million people live within a half-mile of the proposed routes.
"John McCain is asking Nevadans and the residents of 44 states to gamble with their safety, yet it’s not even a bet he’s willing to take for Arizona," said Duvall. "Just like with subsidies—he’s against them, except when it comes to nuclear power and so-called 'clean coal'--John McCain wants to have his cake and eat it too on the nuclear waste issue. He’s all for moving thousands of tons highly radioactive waste through communities across the country, except when it comes to his home state of Arizona."
In addition to being dangerous, John McCain's nuclear plan is a costly distraction from the real solutions to global warming. Based on cost estimates for new nuclear power plants put forth by utilities like Florida Power and Light, McCain's plan for 100 new nuclear plants could cost more than $1 TRILLION.
Over the years McCain has cast vote after vote in favor of Yucca Mountain and billions in subsidies for the nuclear industry, yet he has consistently voted against renewable energy and has refused to support extending key clean energy incentives that are in danger of expiring at the end of this year. Twice in recent months when extending these incentives failed by just a single vote and every single other Senator voted, McCain was nowhere to be found. Failing to extend these incentives could throw 116,000 people out of work in the wind and solar industries alone and sacrifice billions in lost economic growth.
Barack Obama, by contrast, opposes storing nuclear waste at the Yucca Mountain site. With regards to the role of nuclear power in general, Obama’s energy plan released yesterday states:
"Before an expansion of nuclear power is considered, key issues must be addressed including: security of nuclear fuel and waste, waste storage, and proliferation."