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The Editors

To Bury Nuclear Waste, Dig Deeper Than Yucca Mountain

The U.S. needs new strategies to handle its stockpiles of spent fuel.
Yucca's tunnel to nowhere.
Photographer: David Howells/Corbis/Getty Images

Energy Secretary Rick Perry is right to say the U.S. needs a long-term solution to its massive nuclear waste problem. It also makes sense for Perry and some members of Congress to see Yucca Mountain as part of that solution -- though many Nevadans promise to make sure it won’t be.

But even if Yucca can survive the political fight, it can’t be the only option for disposing of America’s spent nuclear fuel. More than 75,000 metric tons of the stuff are cooling in pools and casks at dozens of power-plant sites around the country. That’s already too much to fit in Yucca Mountain, and the total grows by more than 2,000 tons a year. Other strategies are needed, ideally ones that are less politically radioactive.