Rep. James V. Hansen believes some Utahns worry too much about the transportation of hazardous waste through their state.
"People in Utah get uptight about moving it (hazardous waste) across roads, but 256 dangerous elements go up and down the railroads every day, and yet no one says anything," Hansen said. "These things can be moved safely."Hansen, R-Utah, and U.S. Secretary of Energy John F. Herrington tackled issues such as nuclear energy and hazardous waste at a joint press conference and fund-raising dinner for Hansen this week at the Salt Lake Little America.
"The transportation of hazardous waste is very good and safe . . . but the hysteria builds up in public information," Herrington said.
Addressing the issue of hazardous waste, Herrington said the issue must "be faced head-on. There's two things about hazardous waste," he said. "One, it's there. And two, no one wants it."
Herrington said energy-related issues should be critical in the upcoming presidential election campaign.
"No one has taken a good look at what will happen in the area of nuclear energy if Gov. Michael Dukakis is elected president," Herrington said.
"Gov. Dukakis is presiding over a state that uses six times the national average in imported oil. He's anti-nuclear, he's anti-offshore drilling, he's almost anti-everything," Herrington said. "So I think it's a big issue."
Herrington said nuclear power and the price of oil are important elements in the country's energy policy. He said he feels energy issues will play a major role in the presidential election campaign.
Hansen said the nation has become a large energy consumer and it has become necessary to develop nuclear energy resources.
Like many government-subsidized industries in the nation, the nuclear power industry will "eventually be able to make it on its own," Hansen said.
Hansen said the nation has to be cautious about energy use.
"The area of concern is transportation - right now we're 95 percent oil dependent," Hansen said. "That is the area of vulnerability."
Herrington said Congress deserves a lot of credit in its handling of environmental concerns and has been very much aware of the nuclear energy and hazardous waste issues that concern the nation today. Congress is committed to cleaning up nuclear sites in the nation, even if it is at a cost to taxpayers, he said.
Hansen said the nuclear industry is beneficial to Utah, bringing in hundreds of jobs and improving the economy of the state.