After sitting through the Nov. 25 City Council meeting and hearing the word “safety” at least six times during a very long city-lighting presentation—in which all Council members were so eagerly nodding yes—it was very frustrating to hear Council say no to an ordinance or resolution that would make our city safe from the possibility of high-level nuclear waste being transported through Asheville. My mind is further boggled by the city attorney’s opinion that because this is a federal issue, we are helpless—even though he was informed that not only has Las Vegas passed this ordinance, many cities have passed resolutions in solidarity, as a message to the federal government and nuclear industry that nuclear waste will never be safe.
If public comment were allowed, Council would have heard more about how serious this preventative measure has become, because of the proposed Global Nuclear Energy Partnership that the Dept. of Energy is aggressively pursuing with a number of countries to make the U.S. a hub for nuclear-waste reprocessing. That means we would be handling this high-level waste at our seaports, train rails and highways. And it would not exactly be a one-way trip. Consider a truck that exceeds the weight limit of a semitrailer and contains more uranium and plutonium than the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, driven through Asheville (DOE has stated Charlotte and Raleigh are too populated) in a container that has not been appropriately researched and tested. Then consider an accident. Radiation is not safe, and it never will be.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has 26 applications for new nuclear reactors (most in the Southeast). We already have 40 reactors in the U.S. today, with a battle over what to do with the waste. So please don’t buy the marketing strategy that nuclear is clean and good for our environment! Do you know it takes hundreds of thousands of years for radioactive waste to stop being radioactive? Does it make sense to create more waste while we tell our kids to recycle?
And please don’t buy the marketing strategy that reprocessing is like recycling. It isn’t. In fact, it creates more waste, more human exposure, more danger and is very expensive. Think globally and act locally; here’s our chance. Say no to high-level nuclear waste and let your City Council know how you feel. For more facts, go to www.nirs.org.
— Laura Sorensen