| If we can make it to Friday, March 27th when the Kentucky Legislature pronounces those glorious Latin words “sine die” and goes home, maybe someone can convince Senator Leeper that putting in a nuclear storage facility in Kentucky is not a good idea. The city of Paducah once known as "the Atomic City" has had a long relationship with the Gaseous Diffusion Plant. On the upside, the plant has meant jobs. On the downside, thousands of workers lost their health and in some cases their lives in contact with nuclear materials at the plant. Groundwater in McCracken County has been found to be contaminated from runoff from the plant.
Nuclear disposal at Yucca Mountain in Nevada has become news recently with the discovery that the facility isn't as secure as originally thought. Water running through the underground storage facility is making its way into the water supply. The findings are disputed by advocates of the site and more study will be forthcoming. President Obama has ordered the Department of Energy to study whether nuclear waste is best transported across the country or whether nuclear plants should store their own waste.
Storage of waste is problematic. Garbage scows from New Jersey roamed the seas looking for a home. Maxie Flats, a chemical dump here in Kentucky, cost taxpayers millions. Hickman County successfully resisted becoming the garbage capital of the world in the late 80's. The jobs to be generated didn't justify becoming the landfill for St. Louis, Memphis and the East Coast.
Leeper’s amendment attached to an “alternative” energy bill makes such tiny changes in the law of nuclear waste in Kentucky as to be virtually undetectable. After all, what difference does it make if the word “storage” replaces the word “disposal” in KRS 278.610?
In the version proposed by Sen. Leeper, a provision that under current law says
“Technology for the disposal of high-level nuclear waste means a method for the permanent and terminal disposal of high-level nuclear waste. Such disposal does not necessarily preclude the possibility of an approved process of retrieval of such waste; morphs into
“Technology or plan for the storage of high-level nuclear waste means a method for the storage of high-level nuclear waste in accordance with federal laws and regulations. Such disposal does not necessarily preclude the possibility of an approved process of retrieval of such waste; and (a new phrase is added)
“Storage means the retention of high level radioactive waste, spent nuclear fuel or transuranic waste with the intent to recover the waste or fuel for subsequent use, processing or disposal. (new words bolded for emphasis) Leeper's Amendment
The bill got rocked, socked and substituted in the Senate and has come back to the House for either a vote or a concurrence committee to put the two versions together. The bill, which seems to define “alternative energy” as how many ways coal can be used, needs to die this session and rise again as a real alternative energy bill in the future.