U.S. Fails to Deal With Nuclear Waste

One report of “progress” in keeping nuclear material away from terrorists and rogue nations underlines a dramatic failure in U.S. policy.

On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that his nation will send spent nuclear fuel from a facility in Ontario back to the United States. There, it will be converted to a form unusable in nuclear weapons.

Harper’s announcement was made in Washington, during a summit meeting at which representatives of 47 nations were discussing security measures involving nuclear material. Clearly, the news was intended as a show of progress.

But what happens to the spent fuel from Canada after it is processed? No one has a good answer for that – as U.S. officials have no solution for spent nuclear material from scores, perhaps hundreds, of sites in this country.

For many years efforts have been made to find a secure central repository for spent nuclear fuel – some of which can remain dangerous to humans for centuries. The most promising idea involves a site at Yucca Mountain, Nev.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has helped to kill that idea – with President Barack Obama’s support.

Shelving the Yucca Mountain plan puts the United States back on the proverbial “square one” concerning nuclear waste. Any “progress” reported at the summit is dwarfed by U.S. failure to handle the issue – which is of concern regarding both terrorism and public health.