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Carnahan Opposes Nuclear Transports in Missouri

January 20, 2000
By: MICHAEL PATRICK CARNEY
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - President Eisenhower pushed a ribbon of concrete across the nation, in part to protect against a burgeoning Soviet nuclear power.

Now, Missouri's governor said he is concerned radioactive materials on the Interstate system could be a vehicle for nuclear disaster.

Missouri is right in the middle of the country and a national debate.

This centrally located state could serve as a way station for thousands of tons of nuclear waste being transported to the Energy Department's still-to-be constructed Yucca Moutain storage facility in Nevada.

In a letter, Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan said the state will oppose any proposal to transport radioactive waste through the two largest metropolitan areas.

"The thought of spent nuclear fuel passing through cities is a frightening prospect," said Jerry Nachtigal, a spokesman for the governor.

In the letter, written to Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, Carnahan primarily focuses on federal regulations requiring nuclear convoys avoid heavily populated areas.

Outstate areas like Columbia were not specifically addressed.

Nachtigal did not offer specific action the state would take to prevent shipments in non-urban areas.

Nachtigal said Carnahan opposes shipments in almost every instance and will "fight tooth and nail" to prevent them, regardless of location.

"It would be really difficult for something to happen that would cause a problem, but we have to be prepared," said Jerry Uhlmann, director of the state's emergency management office. Uhlmann said he is especially concerned about the hazardous material being in heavily populated areas.