Second quarter of 2002
on Yucca Mountain
By Richard A. Gephardt, Democratic Leader in the House of Representatives
of the US Congress
H-204, U.S. Capitol, May 8, 2002
Gephardt Floor Statement
on Yucca Mountain
"Mr. Speaker: I rise to urge a vote against the Yucca Mountain
approval resolution. I hope this resolution will be turned
down. I commend the courageous people fighting against it, led by
Representative Berkley and Dario Herrera. I'm sorry that
the Bush administration went back on its word, approving the untested,
"Whether or not to allow storage and transportation of waste
is a decision with important consequences for people in my
district and across America. It is a fact that scientists are still
debating whether the Yucca Mountain is safe.
"The General Accounting Office a few months ago said that
storing waste at Yucca could infect water supplies and
release deadly toxins into the surrounding air. It cited 293
scientific questions for which the federal government has no
answers. And even if we begin shipping this waste today, we will
still have nuclear waste stored all over this country decades
"But my biggest concern is that it makes no sense to have all
this material traveling across the country by truck and rail.
"You've seen just in the last month a number of tragic rail
accidents. Even the Energy Department says that inevitably,
there will be derailments of trains heading to Yucca Mountain. I had
a train derailment in my district a year ago in Webster
Groves, Missouri, where a whole train turned over. Luckily, it was
only coal, but it was coal that was spilled a few feet from
homes and schools in Webster Groves, Missouri. And the people in
Webster Groves in the days since then have said to me,
what if it had been not coal but nuclear waste?
"We have no plan. We have no resources. We have no training
for dealing with such a derailment in St. Louis. We have
only one hospital bed in the entire metropolitan area to treat severe
"This is not a question about isolating the risk - Yucca
Mountain in reality simply spreads it around.
"I know there is no perfect solution. But we can begin now to
invest in better ways to store waste at the sites we
currently use. Authorities in Pennsylvania have an approach that puts
an emphasis on technology and innovation - an approach
that avoids having to cart and haul this waste all the way across the
United States. It puts the waste in reinforced facilities. It
benefits people in Pennsylvania and it benefits all Americans.
"I simply think in conclusion that the science and logic is on
the side of leaving this hazardous material on-site until we can find
a better solution. I hope Yucca Mountain will be rejected."
Contact: Erik Smith/Kori Bernards +1-202-225 0100