Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Nevada is Not Your Dump Site

Since it's psychologically easier to dump on someone you don't know, please let me endeavor to introduce you to my state, help you really get to know it, and then convince you why transporting and storing nuclear waste here is a bad idea. Nevada, with the first /a/ being correctly pronounced as a short /a/, means snow-covered in Spanish. The State of Nevada is highly populated, has greatly influenced the history and development of the United States, and continues to contribute to our country's growth, defense and position in the world.

Although we are known for our gaming industry, Nevada is also a mining, cattle ranching, tourist industry, and agricultural state. We have the largest concentration in the United States of one of the most iconic symbols of the American West: wild horses. The University of Nevada, Reno campus was built using plans designed by Thomas Jefferson. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas has a world-class culinary and hospitality program. Great Basin National Park includes 13,063-foot Wheeler peak, 5,000 year-old bristlecone pines, and Lehman Caves, which contains over 300 rare shield formations. We are home to Nellis Air Force Base and the Thunderbirds, Fallon NAS, Tonopah AFS, and Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field. Nevada is also home to approximately 238,128 military veterans (2000). Area 51 is purported to be in our state. If you'd like to experience flight without actually parachuting out of a plane, Las Vegas' Flyaway Indoor Skydiving is America's first vertical wind tunnel, voted number 10 in National Geographic Adventure Magazine's Top Ten Sky-High Adventures.

Although we are nicknamed the Silver State, Nevada is the true Golden State. We are the third largest producer of gold in the world behind the continents of Australia and Africa, and are also second in US silver production after the state of Alaska. The Comstock Lode, made public in 1859, forever altered the population distribution of our country through multiple mass migrations when people rushed West to mine gold and silver. When we became the 36th state during the Civil War, the Battle-Born State, it was our silver and gold that both helped pay and pave the way for the war to be won by the abolitionist North. Our gold, silver and copper ore also helped to fuel the Industrial Revolution.

Nevada is the most mountainous state in the United States of America, containing over 300 individual mountain ranges. Hikers, scramblers, skiiers, and climbers flock to our mountains. We are a world-class destination for mountain climbers with one of the top 5.9 routes anywhere in the world: Epinephrine in Black Velvet Canyon, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, near Las Vegas. In addition, Nevada happens to have 43 named summits over 11,000 feet. Some of our ski resorts receive more than 33 feet of snow a year.

The downside of our basin and range topography is that Nevada is also the fourth most geologically active state, meaning we have earthquakes. Remember that we are also next to California, the second-most geologically active state, and damage from earthquakes centered there can reach out and touch Nevada. Earthquakes don't respect borders. 3.7% of the 778 earthquakes in Nevada between 1973 and 2004 registered 3.5 or higher on the Richter scale. 23.2% of the 4896 earthquakes in California in the same time period were 3.5 or higher (USGS). The proposed Federal Nuclear Waste Depository is sited on a fault at the Yucca Mountain Repository approximately 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, and adjacent to the Nevada Test Site. North Las Vegas, Henderson and Las Vegas, all part of the Greater Las Vegas Area have been some of the fastest growing cities in the United States for the past ten years. When you take all of this into account, and that it's quite possible that the containment technology is inadequate and will not last as long as our government misstates, oops, I mean claims, this is a problem. I haven't even discussed infiltration of groundwater, the truth and accuracy of government reports, or the potentially negative environmental and cultural impacts.

Transportation security is transparent, and therefore penetrable by terrorists and other interested parties. If you don't believe me, check out the security of our country's chemical sites as an example of how ineffectively our government regulates and enforces chemical plant security in our post-9/11 world. As ineffective as they've been here, how well do you think they'd perform in regards to nuclear waste security?

Now, imagine high-level radioactive nuclear waste driven, transported by train, or floated on barges, as it moves through 45 states and the District of Columbia, past your door, your neighborhood, or your city to get here. It will be transported over a weakened infrastructure of bridges (remember the Minneapolis bridge collapse?), roads (need I say more), waterways (anyone for clean water and fishing?), and railway tracks (how many derailings?). At this point, I would also like to remind you of the renegade railroad car that went rolling unsecured and out-of-control on railroad tracks through part of highly populated Clark County, NV (1,777,539 est., US Census, 2006) . The Greater Las Vegas area in Clark County, receives approximately 33 million visitors a year (tourists and convention attendees) or an average of 90,412 per day, with many more people transiting between flights at McCarran International Airport, 14th in the world for passenger traffic in 2007. In fact, during each month, May and June, 2008, McCarran hosted approximately 4 million passengers. Have you ever been here, traveled through or over Southern Nevada? You could be affected, too.

Would you entrust your safety to government assurances? Do you remember Hurricane Katrina and the broken levies? FEMA's response? Also, please don't try to use the unpopulated desert wasteland excuse. As of July 1, 2007, Nevada ranks 35th, not 50th, in population (2,565,382 est., US Census, 2007) followed by such states as New Mexico, Maine, Montana, Hawaii, Idaho, Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming and Vermont. Maybe we should store nuclear waste in the state or district with the lowest population! And the winner is...the District of Columbia! I'm sure our leaders wouldn't mind, as it would affect the least amount of people! Although Nevada's State Motto is "All for our country," this is one time I believe we should not "take one for the gipper." Personally, I don't think we should even be creating nuclear waste, never mind transporting it all across the country through millions of people's neighborhoods, and finally being so rude as to permanently park it in someone else's backyard. But, then, that's another discussion on clean, safe, and sustainable energy sources. Later!

No comments:

Post a Comment

~ Thank you for visiting Palmer's Purview. I appreciate your sweet thoughts and kind comments. ~