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High Cost of Blocking Nuclear Waste Dump

September 21, 2002

The proposed Ward Valley low-level radioactive waste disposal facility was not abandoned "because of concerns that radioactivity could migrate through underground drinking water supplies" (Sept. 13). The Department of Health Services' thorough licensing process--which culminated in a license in 1993--found that the project would be safe and environmentally acceptable. AB 2214 blocks development of the licensed disposal project in the arid Mojave Desert because our government leaders lack the necessary political will to move forward.

A National Academy of Sciences report rejected opponents' contention that the Ward Valley disposal project might threaten the Colorado River. California's courts upheld the decision to issue the Ward Valley license. It was issued to a private company that--as the Legislature requested--had invested its own funds to certify the site and qualify for the license. The state now faces a $162-million lawsuit for abandoning the project.

AB 2214 will cost taxpayers millions. Universities, utilities, medical centers and industries--including biotech and pharmaceutical industries--face loss of access to disposal facilities in other states. Californians may find Sacramento's latest infrastructure mismanagement reminiscent of our recent electricity crisis.

Alan Pasternak PhD

Technical Director

Calif. Radioactive Materials

Management Forum

Lafayette, Calif.

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