When an application goes to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeking to store nuclear waste there is always an uproar. It's the old not-in-my-backyard syndrome. We understand that.
But what if the application is to transport nuclear waste through that proverbial backyard? Apparently that doesn't generate much of a fuss. This we don't get.
It was reported this week that a waste management company has applied for a federal license to import 500 tons -- as in 1 million pounds -- of radioactive waste from Mexico to be incinerated near Richland. The ashes would then be trucked back to Mexico.
The trip from Mexico to the Tri-Cities sounds pretty risky. And the trip back to Mexico doesn't sound particularly safe.
This proposal is alarming.
Yet, this isn't the first application to the federal government to import foreign nuclear waste. This proposal, according to an Associated Press report, is among several recent proposals that have generated little opposition because the waste won't be permanently stored in the U.S.
Let's hope folks start paying attention. Hauling nuclear waste 1,500 miles across several states is a horrible idea.
Beyond that, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation outside of Richland already has millions of gallons of nuclear waste that needs to be cleaned up. The federal government has been sitting on its checkbook and has failed to provide the funds necessary to dispose of the waste in holding tanks.
Does Hanford really need any more?
And we say that with the understanding the nuclear waste in question is not supposed to be as dangerous as some of the stuff bubbling in those tanks at Hanford. NRC spokesman David McIntyre referred to it as low-level waste.
Perhaps. But low-level waste spilled on the highway is more concerning than apples or wheat.
According to the application, Atlanta-based Perma-Fix Environmental Solutions would begin importing the radioactively contaminated materials this year from Mexico's Laguna Verde Nuclear Power Plant near Veracruz for incineration. This would continue through March 31, 2017.
"It's not particularly hazardous stuff," McIntyre said. "They just don't have the incineration capacity down there, whereas Perma-Fix is skilled at it and experienced at it."
Our concern isn't what happens after it reaches Hanford, it's getting to Hanford that's in question.