RODNEY C. EWING: SAYING NO TO YUCCA
Some 75,000 feet of core samples and 18,000 geologic and water specimens have been retrieved from a desolate ridge in the Nevada Desert called Yucca Mountain. Products of a 20-year investigation by the Department of Energy, the recovered materials and their subsequent analyses have made the volcanic protrusion among the most studied features on earth. And such statistics make DOE officials confident that Yucca Mountain would be a suitable disposal site for the nation's high-level nuclear waste, able to hold 70,000 metric tons of radioactive poison safely for 10,000 years.
Rodney C. Ewing begs to differ. Citing the amount of research is "not the way you measure good science, any more than you judge the merits of a book by the number of words," says the 56-year-old geologist, who holds an interdisciplinary professorship at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Ewing sits on the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Board on Radioactive Waste Management and has served on the Yucca Mountain peer-review panel. One of Yucca's most knowledgeable critics, he believes that the mass of information collected, which can be measured in tons, masks even greater unknowns.