Nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain discussed with congressman Tuesday

Published: Aug. 28, 2018 at 6:03 PM EDT
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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

(News 12 First at 5)

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) – During a pit stop in Aiken Tuesday, Congressman Jeff Duncan says he is all in on getting the "yucky" to Yucca Mountain.

"You go there and you see it's the most remote, arid area of the country. You stand on top of Yucca Mountain and you say to yourself, 'if we can't put nuclear waste here, we can't put it anywhere’," Congressman Duncan explained.

In May, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of continuing the process that would allow nuclear waste to be stored there.

"The law is still the law of the land. Yucca Mountain is still the repository for the nation's waste, so we don't have to pass any more laws. What we have to do is appropriate the money."

South Carolina has nearly 15,000 tons of commercial and defense nuclear waste, and most of it is being stored in steel canisters inside a concrete building at the Savannah River Site.

"We want non-partisan, clean solutions."

Tommy Gardiner works with Conservation Voters of South Carolina.

"We educate the public about conservation issues, protecting the land, air, and water of South Carolina," Gardiner told News 12 Tuesday.

SRS spans three counties and is the area’s largest employer, but it's the long-term health of the area Gardiner thinks about.

"It's porous ground, it's very sandy soil. So if you pour something in, it runs straight through the soil and it goes straight down to the water table, which tends to be pretty high. We're right near the Savannah River."

Because of that, Gardiner says the waste needs to leave.

"To continue to advocate for them to remove that out of South Carolina, because South Carolina was never meant to be and was designated as a permanent repository."

Congressman Duncan agrees with Gardiner on that.

"We need to do everything we can to get Yucca Mountain back on track," Duncan said.

A timetable for this appropriations process to get started is not entirely clear. But when asked about when he’d like to see this all set in motion, the Congressman replied: “as soon as possible.”

Ratepayers in South Carolina have already paid $1.3 billion to develop Yucca Mountain. Congressman Duncan says the only thing left to do is build a secure vault inside the mountain to be a safe place to store nuclear waste.