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E-M:/ Environmentalists support Stabenow opposition to Yucca Mtn.

Tuesday, July 9, 2002

James Clift, Michigan Environmental Council (517) 487-9539
Michael Keegan, Don't Waste Michigan (734) 735-6373
Brain Imus, PIRGIM (734) 662-6597
Vicki Levengood, National Environmental Trust / Michigan (517) 333-5786
Kym Spring, Clean Water Action (616) 742-4084

Environmental and Citizen Groups Applaud Stabenow's Vote To Protect the Lakes,
Blast Industry Smear Campaign

Lansing, MI--Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow's decision to vote against permitting high-level radioactive waste shipments to Yucca Mt., Nevada, is a vote for the health of the Great Lakes and Lake Michigan in particular, Michigan groups said at a Lansing news conference today.  Michigan Environmental Council, Clean Water Action, Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, National Environmental Trust / Michigan, Don't Waste Michigan, and PIRGIM represented a list of more than two dozen Michigan environmental groups who oppose the Yucca Mountain repository.

A radio advertising campaign slamming Stabenow's decision, orchestrated in Michigan by big utilities, is a smear campaign that falsely suggests the Yucca Mt. proposal will protect Lake Michigan by moving waste away from nuclear plants on its shores, the groups added.

"Yucca Mt. doesn't solve a problem for Lake Michigan, it creates a new one," said James Clift, policy director for the Michigan Environmental Council.  "Any waste that is removed from nuclear plants on the shores of Lake
Michigan may actually be barged over it, creating the risk of a catastrophic spill." U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham would not rule out the Great Lakes barge shipments when Sen. Stabenow questioned him about the shipments earlier this year. Clift added, "A net 80% of the waste now stored at Michigan's nuclear plants will stay right where it is, posing the same danger that it does today."

Dr. Mary Sinclair, co-Chair of Don't Waste Michigan, agreed. "Government documents show that even when the Yucca Mt. facility is filled to capacity there would be only a net 20% reduction of the waste that currently exists at Michigan reactors, leaving a net 80% on site," said Sinclair.  Furthermore, the final environmental impact statement produced by the U.S. Department of Energy envisions up to 453 barge shipments of high-level radioactive waste on Lake Michigan, including up to 125 from the Palisades Nuclear Plant at South Haven to the Port of Muskegon. Compounding the situation, up to 3,192 truck shipments of high-level nuclear waste will be crisscrossing Michigan on its way to Yucca Mt. for decades into the future if Yucca is approved.

Michigan U.S. Representatives Bonior, Conyers and Rivers were lauded by environmental and citizen action groups for their vote against the Yucca plan on May 8, 2002. "We acclaim the vision and courage of those Michigan Representatives who took a strong stand against this illusion of a solution," stated Kym Spring of Clean Water Action.

"Beware those who say they are Great Lakes advocates but are really advocates for special interests," said Clift, pointing out that Governor Engler, who last week criticized Stabenow's decision to vote against Yucca
Mt., supported the oil industry's bid to drill under the Great Lakes, and has sanctioned a major water export project by the Perrier Company with tax breaks.

"Since utility ratepayers will generate about $25 billion for Yucca Mt., and the current cost of the facility is estimated at $58 billion, this leaves a shortfall of $33 billion which will become a taxpayer obligation," said Michael Keegan of Don't Waste Michigan. "A 'yes' vote for Yucca Mt. places this tax burden on the American people and at the same time drains every dime that could have been used to develop an environmentally sound solution."