For Immediate Release:
Contact: David Willett, 202-675-6698
McCain Mocks Nuclear Safety Concerns
Washington, DC: At a rally on Sunday in Iowa, John McCain mocked Barack Obama's common sense approach to energy saying, in part: "We talked about nuclear power, 'well it has to be safe, environment, blah, blah, blah.'"
McCain's latest gaffe concerning nuclear power comes just days after FirstEnergy Corp reported a leak of radioactive tritium at the Davis-Besse Nuclear Plant in Ottawa County, Ohio.
"Obama has a common sense approach to new energy that puts us on the path to economic recovery without recklessly discounting safety," said Cathy Duvall, Sierra Club's Political Director. "Why would John McCain so casually dismiss legitimate concerns about the threats to safety and national security posed by a rapid build-up of nuclear power plants--especially when he has already admitted it's too dangerous for his own state?"
McCain frequently points to the Navy's use of nuclear power as evidence of safety but as Bloomberg News noted, McCain is careful to say "serious problems" or "accidents" because of the narrow technical definitions used to report problems. McCain consistently fails to mention the numerous leaks, malfunctions and other problems experienced over the years--including as recently as this July when the Navy reported that the USS Houston had been leaking radioactive coolant for two years.
Earlier this year the Sierra Club exposed John McCain's admission that he believes transporting nuclear waste is too dangerous for his own state of Arizona:
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."
Also this summer, the Sierra Club pointed out that the very nuclear plant that Senator McCain visited to promote nuclear power 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. 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.
In addition to being dangerous, John McCain's nuclear plan is a costly distraction from the real solutions to our economic problems and 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 safer options like renewable energy from wind and solar power.
Barack Obama, by contrast, opposes storing nuclear waste at the Yucca Mountain site and takes a common sense approach to increased use of nuclear power that doesn't callously dismiss the health and safety of people across the country.