Yucca Waste Still Needs to Be Stabilized

SEATTLE, March 29 (UPI) — The former head of an advisory board on radioactive waste is urging the U.S. government to get moving on stabilizing dangerous material currently in storage.

Todd Martin, the former chairman of the non-partisan Hanford Advisory Board, told the Seattle Times that the dust-up over the cancellation of the controversial Yucca Mountain storage project is less important than taking steps to reduce the risk of waste stored at the Hanford nuclear reservation in eastern Washington.

“The primary goal should be to get it out of the tanks and get it stable,” Martin told the newspaper.

The Times said Monday that 53 million gallons of liquid waste is stored in tanks at the facility and was supposed to have been converted into glass and then stashed for perpetuity at Yucca Mountain.

The Obama administration has decided to shelve the Yucca Mountain project, which was bitterly opposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

The decision raised a furor over the role politics likely played in the move; however, Martin said many in the nuclear industry had always assumed Yucca Mountain would never open and that the first priority should be stabilizing the waste by turning it into glass rods.

“A lot of us were quite confident way back in 1995 that we would probably end up right at this spot,” said Martin. “I’m much more concerned about when we’re going to make our first teaspoon of glass.”

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