Snowmobiles aren't the only threat to Yellowstone National Park. The Bush administration wants to start making highly radioactive plutonium 238 at the Idaho National Laboratory, which is west of Yellowstone and Grand Teton by 90-100 miles. An accident there could very easily, and very quickly, send clouds of radioactive dust into the parks, and Idaho Falls, and Jackson, and West Yellowstone and everything else in between.
What's Dubya thinking? We can't even keep foam insulation on shuttle rocket boosters and he wants to fire up a 40-year-old reactor to manufacture one of the most radioactive substances known to humans upwind of two incredible parks and who knows how many people?
According to a New York Times article earlier this month, during a public meeting on Dubya's proposal a former nuclear safety specialist said that the reactor in question has been out of compliance with safety and earthquake regs for years. She added that she saw the Energy Department "sweep safety issues under the rug so they could start up the reactor on schedule."
Not only could an accident at the reactor cause incredible problems, but even if it doesn't ever fail it still would crank out lots of toxic wastes. How much? Officials peg the total at more than 50,000 drums worth over 30 years, while producing 330 pounds of plutonium 238.
Leading the fight against this plan is the Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free group that's based in Jackson Hole. Perhaps they could recruit Vice President Cheney to their cause. He has a home in Jackson.
For a rundown on this issue, click over to Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free. You'll find lots of reading material and links to the New York Times stories as well as to DOE documents on the project -- including the 500-page draft environmental impact statement. And if you, too, think this is a stupid idea, call Timothy Frazier, the DOE's EIS documents manager, and tell him so. You can reach him at 800-919-3706.