The contentious issue of nuclear waste is quite literally an issue that will not simply go away. The government is spending billions of dollars on testing for the safest way to repose the nation’s nuclear waste, but these billions have not yielded any definitive answer. The problem with the government’s intervention is that there are conflicting laws, both regional and national, that have precluded any progress on tackling the nuclear waste problem. Nuclear energy is a viable source of energy for our future but there will be government interventions which make it difficult to get new nuclear energy up and running.

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It is evident that there has been little progress in getting nuclear energy up and running or finding ways to store the nuclear waste of the past. The three articles that are reviewed in order to assess this problem range from 2002-2013. The fact that this has been an issue of debate for so long, and has yet to have any agreed upon answers, is evidence that despite the fact that new nuclear energy is a viable source for energy, the government’s interference impedes both the progression of new nuclear energy and the progress of storing old nuclear waste. However, due to the nature of nuclear waste, the populations that are impacted by the way that we treat nuclear energy and waste, it is not feasible to build new nuclear without government interventions. This is not to say that new nuclear is not feasible in and of itself. The main problem lies in Washington and how to get politics in line with the reality of the needs and demands of nuclear energy (Will).

One model that could and should be followed is that which has been modeled in Sweden and by the Calvert Cliffs plant in Baltimore, MD (Garrick). This plant has had much support and no local opposition due to its performance and safety record (Garrick). The plant has proven itself to be a commodity to the local economy, and that it is not a threat to public safety. When it comes to the Yucca Mountain site, the local population remains uninformed about the actual benefits and safety of the plant. Instead, politician, Harry Reid, fuels a political fight against Yucca Mountain based on the prediction of potential problems—all problems that are theoretical and not true (Garrick).

Given the protests in South Dakota surrounding Big Stone Lake and the coal plant, it is clear that the public is misinformed and that the government has muddied the otherwise clear waters of the best way to gain nuclear energy (DeCock). The Yucca Mountain plant is a good idea for storing nuclear waste. Not only is the mountain farther from major populations than other test sites, but the nuclear waste would be better protected in one spot rather than farming out many sites to protect.

It is only the interventions of the government that have stopped the progress at Yucca Mountain. People believe the hypothetical problems, such as dangerous transportation, the idea that the waste will leak, and the local opposition based on tourism in Las Vegas, rather than acknowledging the necessity of the location for the entire nation. The waste has to go somewhere. It makes sense that the waste should be stored in a mountain that is geologically insulated with tuff, and in a mountain that already has billions of dollars of testing performed in it (Garrick). Plus, just as we have made advancements over the past twenty years in our ability to store nuclear waste safely, it is a safe assumption that these advancements will continue, and that Yucca Mountain can be made even more safe than it already is.  

  • DeCock, John. “Big Stone II – Stopping the Unstoppable Coal Fired Power Plant.” HuffPost, 2011,—stopping-t_b_345567.html. Accessed 12 Sep. 2018.
  • Garrick, John and Victor Gilinsky. “Yucca Mountain: Pro & Con.” IEEE Spectrum, 2002, Accessed 12 Sep. 2018.
  • Will, George. “George Will: Court Orders Obama to Follow Nuclear Waste Law.” The Washington Post, 2013, Accessed 12 Sep. 2018.