A recent stir of activity and promotion (also known as lobbying) related to the possibility of storing and reprocessing nuclear waste in Mississippi received, at best, a polite response from some in the state’s economic development community and outright hostility from one congressional Republican.
Patrick Sullivan, director of the private-sector Mississippi Energy Institute, and Jason Dean, a lobbyist and former education assistant to former Gov. Haley Barbour, have been shopping the idea that jobs will run to Mississippi if the state opens itself to nuclear waste storage and reprocessing of nuclear waste. Gov. Bryant apparently has become a supporter and criticized voices in opposition, like U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo, the 4th District Republican.
As columnist Charlie Mitchell notes today, Mississippi already has some stored nuclear waste, at Grand Gulf Nuclear Plant in Claiborne County on the Mississippi River. Alabama and Tennessee also have similar storage of nuclear waste, also from power plants.
The waste is stored at the plants because there’s no other place to take it. Yucca Mountain in Nevada, the only high-profile nuclear storage site in the United States, is apparently on the way out because Nevada’s senior U.S. senator, Majority
Leader Harry Reid, wants it gone, as do the people who run Las Vegas, which is less than 100 miles from Yucca Mountain.
Nuclear waste is not just a long-term environmental and quality of life issue; it is also a control and safety issue for a virtual eternity – hundreds of thousands of years.
ABC news reported in mid-August that even though Nevada and its top politicians don’t want Yucca Mountain, it might be used. It reported that the act instructs the Department of Energy to investigate creation of a geologic repository for nuclear waste. By the GAO’s estimate, the U.S. now has more than 75,000 metric tons of such waste, housed at 80 different sites in 35 states. The amount, predicts GAO, will more than double by 2055.
An appeals court ruled earlier that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, by stopping work on Yucca Mountain, had flouted the law.
Mississippi certainly needs thousands of good jobs like those touted in relation to nuclear storage and reprocessing, but the campaign promoting the idea seems premature and ill-timed.