House speaker reiterates support for Yucca Mountain waste dump

RENO - Another top Republican in Congress is sounding off again in support of building a nuclear waste dump at Nevada's Yucca Mountain.

Campaigning on behalf of a fellow Illinois GOP congressional candidate, House Speaker Dennis Hastert repeated his call this week to get rid of the nuclear waste that remains at ComEd's closed plant in Zion, Ill.

He reiterated earlier criticism of Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., for voting to sustain President Clinton's veto of a bill that would have launched construction of a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, according to the Chicago Daily Herald.

Hastert said the veto will prevent Illinois' nuclear waste from being shipped out of town for at least five years.

''The senator from Illinois (Durbin) said he was worried about the children of Nevada,'' Hastert said.

''I think we ought to worry about the children of Illinois,'' he said.

Officials for the Nevada Democratic Coordinated Campaign 2000 distributed the Daily Herald's Oct. 24 article to Nevada media outlets this week as part of their ongoing effort to paint Republicans as the enemy in the battle to keep nuclear waste out of the state.

Hastert earlier urged Clinton to sign the bill that would ship the waste to Yucca Mountain.

''We cannot continue to keep nuclear waste at 140 different sites around the country, which were never designed for long-term storage,'' Hastert said in April.

''The Yucca Mountain storage facility has passed and surpassed every safety standard. It should be put to use,'' he said.

Democrats say waste already would be on its way to Yucca Mountain if not for the opposition of President Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and other Democrats who continually have voted against the bill.

They point to comments by two leading GOP Senators - Frank Murkowski of Alaska and Pete Domenici of New Mexico - as evidence of how a Bush administration would handle the controversy.

''This bill is dead until we get a new administration,'' Murkowski said the last time the Senate approved the bill in February.

In July, Domenici said the government would build a temporary repository for thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel within six to eight months after George W. Bush was elected.

Domenici did not say where the waste might be stored. But Nevada's Democratic Sens. Harry Reid and Richard Bryan said Yucca Mountain is the only place currently under consideration for such a waste dump.

Domenici told the Nevadans at the time he didn't believe Yucca Mountain was a done deal, only that a dump would be built under a GOP administration.

''We will build a short-term nuclear waste facility within six months to eight months of the next president, if he's a Republican, because it's totally safe,'' Domenici said. ''Whether they'll put it in your state or somewhere else, I don't know.''

Nevada Republicans point out that congressional Democrats were the authors of the first bill proposing construction of a nuclear waste dump in Nevada a decade ago.

On a campaign swing through Nevada earlier this week, GOP vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney said there is no difference between the views of Bush and Gore regarding Yucca Mountain.


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