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NM Conservation Groups Eye Candidates' Nuclear Plans

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 By Eric Mack/Steve Powers, Contact
October 29, 2008

Albuquerque - Conservation groups in New Mexico are listening closely to what the presidential candidates are saying about their plans for nuclear power and what it leaves behind - nuclear waste. The candidates have been trading barbs recently over their plans - with Senator John McCain appearing to mock Senator Barack Obama's call in a recent speech in Iowa for safety and environmental safeguards for new nuclear plants.

Shrayas Jatkar with the Sierra Club in Albuquerque says New Mexicans should pay attention, because plenty of waste from the nuclear industry can be found right here.

"If the government is going to be supporting the nuclear industry, then it ought to be cleaning up the mess they've created over decades of uranium milling and mining."

Jatkar points out that one thing the candidates haven't been talking about is the price tag of roughly $10 billion that comes with each new nuclear power plant.

"Just given the financial situation that we're in, we ought to focus on cleaner energy alternatives that are safer, more secure and certainly more affordable."

Jatkar says weapons production at Los Alamos Labs has left significant amounts of nuclear waste sitting around indefinitely, waiting for a disposal plan. Both presidential candidates have said they support expanding nuclear power as part of a comprehensive energy plan. Unlike McCain, Obama has said that the problems of waste disposal and safe operations must be solved before more nuclear reactors are built.

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