President Bush broke his campaign promise to Nevadans and rushed ahead with plans to develop a national nuclear waste repository in the state, the speaker of the Nevada Assembly said Saturday in the weekly Democratic radio address.
The decision by the Bush administration to move forward on the Yucca Mountain project has serious consequences not only for Nevada, but for the 38 million Americans who live within a mile of the nation's highways and rail lines, Speaker Richard Perkins said.
"There are a host of questions about the safety of shipping nuclear waste thousands of miles, questions about the safety of the canisters, rail and truck routes and their vulnerability to terrorist attacks," said Perkins, who is also a deputy police chief in the city of Henderson.
"There are serious questions about burying nuclear waste ... when exposure to even small amounts will result in almost certain gruesome death."
Bush signed legislation last year tapping Yucca Mountain, about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, as the nation's sole nuclear waste repository. The plan is to transport 77,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste through 43 states to the underground repository beginning in 2010 .
The president and the Energy Department contend the waste can safely be transported and stored at Yucca Mountain.
Perkins said Bush reneged on his promise during the 2000 campaign that he would rely on "sound science" to make a decision.
"President Bush broke his promise to us here in Nevada with a speed and arrogance that is astounding," Perkins said. "He short-circuited the research going on at Yucca Mountain. He ignored the concerns of independent scientists and rushed to judgment."
Perkins called on Bush, who is making his first visit to Nevada next week as president, to "rebuild his credibility" by reconsidering his decision.
"You can't build trust based on breaking promises and misleading people," he said.