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Friday, June 27, 2008

USA Politics: What To Do About Nuclear Waste

Obama says he might support more nuclear plants, but only with a solution for radioactive waste.

"What can bring gas prices down is a long-term, serious energy policy," Obama said during a meeting in Chicago with leaders of major American corporations, including Ford and JP Morgan Chase.

U.S. Sen. John McCain believes America should drill for oil off-shore and build dozens of new nuclear power plants. Obama has said "maybe" to nuclear power, but only if we can solve the problem of nuclear waste.

In Wednesday's "Truth In Politics," CBS 2 Political Editor Mike Flannery reports that is a mighty big "if."

From Illinois Beach State Park, it's a short walk to the old Zion nuclear power plant – shut down in the 1990s but still holding tons of radioactive poison. Scientists said that nuclear waste will still be lethal for 10,000 years.

Chicagoan Beverly Easterly said she would like to see that waste moved away from the lake. "A very unhealthy situation for it to be here."

Jane Dishman of Lake Villa said, "They need to get it off of Lake Michigan … soon. … Not anywhere. If they could put it in the mountains there in Nevada, you know."

With more nuclear power plants than any other state, Illinois politicians, including former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, fought for years to move the deadly waste, eventually forging a federal plan to bury it under Yucca Mountain in an empty Nevada desert.

Critics complained Yucca Mountain might leak, winning over another Illinois politician. Barack Obama regularly has attacked the Yucca Mountain plan when in Nevada, campaigning against McCain, who recently called for dozens of new nuclear plants.

"It makes about as much sense as his proposal to build 45 new nuclear reactors without a plan to store the waste someplace other than, guess where, right here in Nevada at Yucca Mountain. Folks, these are not serious energy policies," Obama said at one such campaign rally.

While opposing plans to move Illinois' nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain, Obama said he would do research to find another solution.

Illinois Congressman Mark Kirk said, "We have more than 30 nuclear plants around the Great Lakes, all that have stored highly radioactive nuclear waste, including plutonium, right next to the source of 95 percent of the fresh water of the United States."

All sides in the debate agree that having that much nuclear waste near the Great Lakes is as dumb as it gets. Kirk has been a strong supporter of burying the radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain.

The nation's largest operator of nuclear power plants is Exelon, the parent company of our electric utility, ComEd. A spokesman told us Exelon has a plan to build a new nuclear power plant in Texas and wants the Illinois General Assembly to repeal this state's current freeze on new nuclear plants, which, combined with renewable sources such as solar and wind power, would help free us from dependence on foreign oil.

(Source: CBS)

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