by David Safier
When I say the LD-26 Senate race is going nuclear, I'm not speaking metaphorically.
Cap'n Al Melvin, who will heretofore be referred to as Atomc Al, has come out in favor of dotting Arizona with nuclear power plants, each the size of the huge Palo Verde facility outside Phoenix. But that doesn't begin to describe the nuclear future he sees for Arizona. Atomic Al wants to make Arizona the nuclear waste dump for the nation.
Challenger Cheryl Cage thinks this is a disastrous, out-of-touch idea, and she has issued a strong reply to Melvin's nuclear notions.
Melvin wrote an op ed in last week's Explorer detailing his love for all things nuclear. Except he doesn't use the word "nuclear" much. He prefers "atomic." "Nuclear" sounds so . . . so dirty, I guess.
He writes about "atomic energy producers" — otherwise known as nuclear power plants — and "atomic energy recycling" — otherwise known as nuclear waste dumps that reprocess some of the radioactive waste for reuse in nuclear power plants and leave the rest to be disposed of somehow, somewhere in Arizona, where it will remain dangerously radioactive for thousands of years.
How much atomic energy recycling nuclear waste does Melvin see in Arizona's future? Enough to put about $5 billion a year in our state tax coffers and cover the entire cost of K-12, community college and university education for the state.
Try to picture it. Arizona would collect highly radioactive nuclear waste from all over the country, truck it down our poorly maintained highways, then stick it . . . somewhere. No one in the world knows what to do with nuclear waste in the long term, and in the U .S., no one wants to offer their state as the final resting place for everyone's radioactive garbage. No one, that is, except Atomic Al, who says, Ship it all here — make sure there's enough to generate $5 billion annually in taxes — and we'll figure out what to do with it.
Cage wrote a counter op ed in this week's Explorer. She's appalled at the idea of a radioactive Arizona future and debunks many of the facts and figures Melvin throws around in his op ed.
Expect to hear more about this in the future, from me and, I hope, from traditional media outlets. This is a question about what Arizona's future should be, and the answer we choose will be with us for a long, long time.