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E-M:/ Press Release/Radioactive Waste on MI Interstates and Railroads

Enviro-Mich message from AliceH777@aol.com

Embargoed until:  9:00 AM-June 25, 2002
Contacts:  Don't Waste Michigan, Alice Hirt 616-335-3405, Michael Keegan 
Brian Imus-PIRGIM 734-662-6597


Lansing, MI  . . .Trucks and trains each carrying the equivalent of 240 times 
the radioactive material released at Hiroshima could rumble through Michigan 
communities if the Senate votes in the next few weeks to allow the Yucca 
Mountain project to go ahead.  These are the findings of a report written by 
PIRGIM and released today by Don't Waste Michigan entitled "Radioactive Roads 
and Rails: Hauling Nuclear Waste Through our Neighborhoods".  The report 
details the Department of Energy's proposal for more than 105,000 truck 
shipments of highly radioactive waste from all across the country to Yucca 
Mountain, Nevada. 

The "Radioactive Roads and Rails" report shows that Michigan alone could see 
3,192 truck shipments or 488 rail shipments over the course of 38 years. 
Truck shipments of nuclear waste could come south on Interstates 75 and 69 
and west on Interstate 94 or rail shipments could travel through Bay City, 
Saginaw, Flint, Lansing and Battle Creek over the course of four decades. 
Other waste shipments could be carried by barge over Lake Michigan.  

"Commuters on Interstates 75, 69 and 94 could find themselves stuck in 
traffic behind three and a half tons of high-level nuclear waste," said Alice 
Hirt of Don't Waste Michigan.  "With up to 3,192 truck shipments over four 
decades, this is going to put too many people in harm's way."

High-level nuclear waste is recognized as among the most dangerous substance 
known to humankind. When initially removed from the reactor core, it can 
deliver a lethal dose of radiation within seconds. The Department of Energy 
intends to ship the waste in transportation casks, but size and weight 
limitations make it impossible to build a transportation cask that does not 
"leak" some radiation. The DOE acknowledges that a truck carrying a nuclear 
waste cask will emit the equivalent of one chest x-ray per hour of radiation 
to those who are caught in traffic nearby. "In the best case scenario, these 
shipments are like rolling x-ray machines," said Brian Imus of PIRGIM.   "In 
the worst case scenario, these shipments are mobile Chernobyls."

According to one DOE estimate, there will be as many as 310 accidents in the 
course of transporting this highly radioactive waste across the country.  
There have been at least eight reported nuclear waste transportation 
accidents in the U.S. involving radioactive contamination of transport 
vehicles, roads and rails.  Emergency Medical Services officials have stated 
repeatedly that a severe nuclear waste accident - which could involve 
thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in property damage - is not 
something they have the training or equipment to properly respond to.  
Because of the potential for such horrendous accidents, several studies show 
that property values will decline for those millions of Americans living in 
the vicinity of the transportation routes.

The DOE currently has no plans to take into account the additional dangers of 
transporting nuclear waste post-September 11.  The Yucca Mountain project 
involves the movement of nuclear waste from 131 more securable locations.  
This entails thousands of miles of roadway and rail lines that cannot be 
secured from attacks, creating an opportunity for sabotage throughout 
communities across America. "At the end of the road, under this ill-conceived 
plan, the waste will be dumped at Yucca Mountain - in a porous mountain on an 
aquifer in an earthquake zone," said Michael Keegan. "It's time for Senators 
Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow to say no to this dangerous transportation 
scheme and to vote against Yucca Mountain."

# # # 30 # # #

PIRGIM is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy group with 
10,000 members in Michigan. Coalition Partner is Don't Waste Michigan.  
Americans can visit HYPERLINK http://www.mapscience.org www.mapscience.org 
and see how closely nuclear waste shipments would pass by their home.

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