Education should, ideally, lead to truth. But attempts to "educate" Utahns, coming from those who want to store spent nuclear fuel rods here, should be viewed warily if not laughingly.
Perhaps their time would be better spent teaching folks in the East and Midwest - those who are dying to get nuclear waste off of their own soil. Obviously, they have lots to learn, too.Private Fuel Storage, a consortium of out-of-state utility companies, hopes to stockpile 40,000 metric tons of nuclear waste on the Skull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation in Tooele County. That effort is, rightly, being vigorously resisted by Gov. Mike Leavitt and clear-thinking state legislators.
The Utah House has sent Leavitt a bill allowing the state to take over the only road leading to the proposed storage site. The Senate sent SB196 to the House, a measure that implements stiff regulations on atomic-waste facilities. It includes a requirement for a $5 million licensing fee and $2 billion cash bond. Another Senate bill, SB144, increases the fee Utah charges for storage of low-level radioactive waste from $2.50 per ton to $15.
All deserve full support, rapid passage and the governor's signature.
While political opposition plays out, PFS officials have indicated they intend to "educate" Utah's populace on the safety of their proposal.
Don't insult us, please.
The issue of storage is one of money - much of it, for members of the Skull Valley Band of Goshutes - and political clout, which comes in lesser amounts for Utah. It also is about safety and, yes, image. Three Mile Island sits in a beautiful setting, but it will be forever tagged otherwise. Neither Utah, nor sovereign lands within its borders, should not be anyone's dumping ground.
The promise that the stored fuel, which remains lethally "hot" for 10,000 years, would be here only up to two 20-year periods is suspect. Once in place on Utah's soil, it would unlikely ever be moved.
These are valid issues, despite what Scott Northard, manager of nuclear projects for Northern States Power Co. of Minneapolis, Minn., would have others believe. Minnesota has plenty of open spaces for storage of spent nuclear fuel, but that state has outlawed the practice. Does anything more really need to be said?
It is surprising that a few Utah legislators, such as state Sen. John Holmgren, R-Bear River City, have bought Northard's line and suggest the waste would "solve many of our problems." Just what problems are those?
Utah is thriving economically and known generally as a pristine state that welcomes clean industry. Nuclear waste doesn't fit environmentally or economically. Leave it where it lies.