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Nuclear Waste In The Fast Lane


Phil Klevorick, program manager for nuclear waste, Clark County

BY MARIE ANDRUSEWICZ -- Radioactive waste, on wheels, at high speeds, yards away from you on a highway.

A federal report says there are “no meaningful differences in potential environmental effects” between shipping the waste along less populated routes and shipping them through downtown Las Vegas and the 215 highway.

But Phil Klevorick, Clark County’s program manager for nuclear waste, thinks the Department of Energy’s proposal to change the route doesn’t fully examine the long-term risks.

He says that nuclear waste not only creates a public safety issue, but “there’s also the stigma that’s associated around an incident involving nuclear waste, and the impact that it could have on the economics and the social economics side.”

He points to the recent rail disaster in Canada involving several crude oil tankers that has resulted in at least 24 deaths.

Klevorick says he can only speculate as to the Department of Energy’s motives, but does agree there would be a cost savings in sending the waste along a more direct route.

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“But just because it’s a shorter route, doesn’t mean it’s the best route,” says Klevorick.

Klevorick is also concerned that once regulations are loosened on which routes can be used for transporting waste, that opens the door to other paradigm shifts.

“The irony of this whole thing is that Clark County has been opposed to the Yucca Mountain project for decades,” says Klevorick. “But with the Department of Energy making a self determination that using the beltways is of no significant difference than using any existing approved routes, we have the fear that they’re looking at trying to open the door for other shipments that would be going up to the Nevada test site.”

Friday, July 12, 2013