Local Matters Special Edition: Talking nuclear with Ned Ryan Doyle and Jerry Nelson

In the 1980s, U.S. officials considered storing nuclear waste in Sandy Mush just outside of Asheville. Residents fought the proposal, and it was tabled — but not forgotten. On Jan. 7, a busload of area residents met before dawn in Asheville; with the aim, in part, of making sure Sandy Mush didn’t crop up again as an option, they headed to Augusta, Ga., for a meeting of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. Xpress talked with two folks who took the trip that day — alternative-energy advocate Ned Doyle and photographer Jerry Nelson. [Scroll down to find the audio interview.]

A little background on the commission: Convened almost one year ago under the Obama administration and Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the Blue Ribbon Commission is charged with reviewing almost all things nuclear: “conduct[ing] a comprehensive review of policies for managing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle and to provid[ing] recommendations for developing a safe, long-term solution to managing the Nation’s used nuclear fuel and nuclear waste,” according to a commission press release that previewed its first meeting in March 2010.

“The Commission is made up of 15 members who have a range of expertise and experience in nuclear issues, including scientists, industry representatives, and respected former elected officials. The Commission will produce an interim report within 18 months and a final report within 24 months,” the statement continues.

For more about the issue and about the Sandy Mush area, here are a few links:

About Sandy Mush: http://www.mountainx.com/news/2007/122607easements

Asheville City Council’s decision about hazardous waste traveling the region: http://www.mountainx.com/news/2008/120308asheville_city_council

A nuclear-fuel leak in 2004: http://www.mountainx.com/news/2004/0707uranium.php

A statement by Ned Doyle about the trip: http://www.mountainx.com/blogwire/2011/a_blue-ribbon_nuclear_bus_ride

A July 2010 blog about the Sandy Mush-nuclear history http://ncmountainpolitics.blogspot.com/2010/07/will-sandy-mush-get-nuclear-waste.html

CREDITS: The Local Matters theme music is “jam band spy song” by E. Lee Photography by Jerry Nelson (for more of his photos, click here). Audio editing and technical assistance by Steve Shanafelt. Research, interview and blog-post text by Margaret Williams.


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About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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6 thoughts on “Local Matters Special Edition: Talking nuclear with Ned Ryan Doyle and Jerry Nelson

  1. Freddy

    The narrow minds that are fueling this charade is amazing. The facts are so skewed I can’t even begin to fathom having an intelligent conversation with any of them about this. A discussion in the 1980’s prompted a group of throwbacks to get on a bus and protest nuclear energy? The 1980’s where the dark ages for this science, and thanks to exactly this type of hysteria, the U.S is now decades behind in utilizing probably one of the most safest, cleanest and efficient forms of energy.

    How much more speculation can these pieces get..”Maybe, could be, you never know, what does that mean?..”

    Time to whip out the tinfoil hats..

  2. Peggy Hoppenstedt

    The problem with Nuclear power has always been…what to do with the radio active waste. The solution of waste has been to ship it off to a rural area. Here is another example of shipping waste to a sparsely populated area. (Sandy Mush)
    Nuclear power is not a clean power, due to the waste (consider Yucca Mtn). Then consider that it has to be trucked or railed to this area. Let’s keep Western NC from becoming a “dump.”

  3. Ned Ryan Doyle

    Dear “Jerry” and all citizens, Thank You “Jerry” for a remarkable example of a narrow mind that embraces name calling and speculation -with no factual basis- regarding an important issue. These comments demonstrate the difficulty today of having an intelligent conversation on this issue, and many others. While liberally exercising the right to free speech, keep in mind the presumed assumption of an informed electorate, a standard to which these comments fail to meet. Sadly, the Bill of Rights included no provision for understanding the facts or issues before offering opinions in the course of public free speech. A personal opinion might be that red is a better color than blue, but to state,as only one example from your comments, that nuclear is “safe, clean & efficient” is an opinion offered demonstrating ignorance of the facts and a blind eye to the evidence. I’ve discovered over the years that people who support the expansion of nuclear systems are either 1.) Unaware of the facts or 2.) Profit from ignoring the facts. A sad state of affairs for civil, intelligent discourse. Sincerely, Ned Ryan Doyle

  4. Vrede


    Nuclear power does not exist and will not progress without massive government subsidy far exceeding that of other energy sources. It’s economic poison to Wall Street. What are you, a liberal?

  5. bill smith

    [i]probably one of the most safest, cleanest and efficient forms of energy.[/i]

    Safe? Clean? Can you provide some evidence for someone who is under the impression that nuclear energy has some dirty side effects?

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