Citizen Alert Says:
Nuclear Waste Transitting
Reno-Sparks Within Months

High-level nuclear waste could be passing through the Truckee Meadows as early seven months from now, under plans described in a federal government study.
And if the radioactive waste doesn't go through Reno-Sparks, it will go through Quincy, California along the Feather River.
Lee Dazey, northern Nevada coordinator for Citizen Alert -- formed to oppose federal plans to store nuclear waste in Nevada -- says seven casks of spent nuclear reactor fuel from foreign nations are scheduled to be moved from the Concord Naval Weapons Station in California to the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory for temporary storage.
Each cask, said Dazey, carries nuclear material equal to the amount necessary for 60 Hiroshima-sized bombs.
Should the train stop in Sparks to refuel, she said, residents could be exposed to deadly levels of radioactivity. Someone standing within three feet of a cask without a shield would receive lethal radioactivity within 10 seconds, she said, while a person six feet away with a shield would receive the same radiation per hour as one chest X-ray.
"There is no safe dose," said Dazey, who hopes to contact Sparks Mayor Bruce Breslow to discuss the federal plan. Breslow, out of town, could not be reached for comment. Nor could federal officials.
The Truckee Meadows rail route would move the nuclear waste along the Interstate 80 corridor to Salt Lake City before arriving in Idaho. According to Dazey, the government study weighs moving the radioactive material by the fastest route to reduce risks (Reno-Sparks) or move the waste slowly through less populated areas (Quincy/Feather River) to reduce risks.
Noting that federal studies show trains carrying dangerous chemicals will have accidents, Dazey said the potential for
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a nuclear waste spill along either route is real. Casks used for transporting the spent waste can withstand a fire of 1475 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, she said, but "many rail fires burn for days .. at a much higher temperature."
She said diesel fuel burns at 1850 degrees F.
"We don't have the emergency responders to handle this kind of emergency," said Dazey. "A spill would contaminated a 40-square mile area and we are ill-prepared to deal with it."
The spent nuclear fuel -- 36 fuel assemblies of radioactive fuel rods -- is coming to the United States under a 20-year-old agreement with foreign countries to which the U.S. gave uranium for medical research. Under the agreement, the U.S. was to take back the fuel, which could be used to make nuclear weapons.
Since the Idaho destination of the rods is only a temporary site for the storage of nuclear waste storage, the rods could, in the future, be moving through Nevada a second time. Yucca Mountain is the United States' only designated long-term nuclear waste storage site.
Dazey said Citizen Alert is planning a demonstration August 28 at Wingfield Park to draw attention to local dangers of the nuclear waste transport. The "1996 Don't Waste America! Stop the Nuclear Waste! Western States Tour will also present information about nuclear waste in general.
National and local speakers from anti-nuke organization will speak, she said, and a life-size mockup of a G-4 nuclear waste cask will be displayed on its 3200-mile cross-country instructional travels.
Citizen Alert's Lee Dazey can be reached at (702) 827-4200.

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