Dear Editor,

I read with interest your Commentary column (Thomas Mitchell, “It may be time to negotiate Yucca Mountain benefits”) in the May 5, 2017 edition.

Whether a person opposes or supports the storage or reprocessing of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, it should be clear to all that the alternative proposed routing for a new railroad to transport nuclear waste from the UPRR connection at Caliente to nearly Tonopah, then south through Beatty and to Armargosa Junction and Yucca Mountain, is plainly idiotic.

The alternative proposed route from Fernley to Hawthorne to Tonopah, Beatty, Armargosa Junction and Yucca Mountain is the only route that makes any practical sense; there are tow big reasons: (i) it follows the historic, easy route of former railroads from Hawthorne and to Armargosa Junction; and (ii) the Fernley to Hawthorne existing railroad has/does transport nuclear weapons and high explosives.

The only reason that the Caliente route was considered over the Fernley route is that Harry Reid persuaded the Walker River Paiutes to oppose the Fernley route over the existing rail through the tribe’s lands. The Environmental Impact Report for the railroad states that the Fernley route would be the preferred alternative but for the fact of the tribe’s opposition to nuclear waste trains over the existing railroad from Fernley to Hawthorne through the tribal land. Reid paid the tribe for the tribe’s opposition by funding the tribe’s water litigation to the tune of $60M. The Fernley route would be $billions less than the Caliente alternative to build. The Walker Lake Paiutes sold out cheap.

If Trump really means what he says he can do expensive things for less, then the Fernley Route is his only practical route.

Besides, if it is safe to transport the nuclear waste, then it is safe to haul it through Las Vegas. If it is not safe to transport, what is the justification to foist it off on Caliente? Fernley, Hawthorne and the Walker River Paiutes already have nukes on that railroad.

Before you get head-up on Yucca Mountain and getting $ for all Nevadans (mostly urban) for an impact to only rural Nevadans, it would be best to figure out what might make sense and what does not.

I do not doubt that Rep. John Shinkus of Illinois is a driving force to resurrect Yucca Mountain, because of the amount of nuclear waste produced in Illinois and the $billions on $billions involved.

Here’s the deal. Any electrical utility with public shareholders is required to state on its balance sheet the fair, true amount of the company’s liabilities. In the case of electric utilities with nuclear fuel powered generating stations, the radioactive waste presents a hazard, or liability, which must be stated in dollars on the company’s financial statements. If the amount of the liability for nuclear waste is understated, then the CEO and CFO can be charged under federal law with a felony, convicted and sent to jail. Presently, all the nuclear waste at nuclear power plants in Illinois, and elsewhere in the US, is stored onsite, at the power plants. If it can be transported to Yucca Mountain, not necessarily a safer proposition, title to or ownership of the nuclear waste will transfer to the USA and the utilities can take the liability off their balance sheets – and reduce their risk of going to jail.

Although I know nothing about Rep. Shinkus, considering the number of Illinois politicians that have gone to or remain in jail, the motivations for Yucca Mountain are myriad. It is not a surprise that a Representative from Illinois is leading the charge.


John Huston