Illinois wants its waste gone

A Republican congressmember from Illinois is faulting a Democratic U.S. senator from Massachusetts for failing to help his constituents by opposing a nuclear waste dump in Nevada.

Rep. John Shimkus, whose state of Illinois relies more than any other on nuclear power—it gets 48 percent of its electricity from nuclear plants—accused Sen. John Kerry of failing residents of Massachusetts because Kerry opposes the proposed nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain in Nevada’s Nye County.

Shimkus said that at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Kerry’s home state “waste is stored above ground in pools, very similar to Fukushima Daiichi in Japan.”

However, critics of waste storage in Massachusetts do not call for opening of the Yucca dump. A website for Pilgrim Watch in Duxbury, Mass., said that while the group believes waste at the Pilgrim site is stored unsafely, “The simplest solution appears to be continued onsite dry cask storage.”

The Illinois legislator has been making House floor speeches all year attacking legislators who fail to support the Yucca dump. In an October speech, for instance, he devoted himself to legislators in the Pacific Northwest: “Senator [Maria] Cantwell is not supportive of Yucca Mountain. Senator [Patty] Murray is supportive, at least in her public statements. Senator [Ron] Wyden is not supportive. And Senator [Jeff] Merkley is silent. They should not be silent.”

Shimkus is best known for telling Politico that scripture provides a guarantee against any dire consequences from climate change.

“I do believe in the Bible as the final word of God,” he said. “And I do believe that God said the Earth would not be destroyed by a flood.”