All tagged Mitch McFarland

Scuttlebutt • Yucca Mountain Revisited

The Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Dump is being revived, but it is complicated.

     After creating nuclear waste for 40 years with no regulation or plan, Congress passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982.  It was the official recognition of the fact that nuclear energy activities created toxic radioactive substances that had to be thoroughly isolated for a very long time from contact with living things.  The Act established that radioactive waste should be deposited deep in geological “repositories”.  After years of studies ( and plenty of politics) they eventually decided on Yucca Mountain in Nevada.  In the 2010 Harry Reid got Obama to halt the Yucca Mountain project due to local opposition.  Of course, it never hurts a President to do a big favor for the Senate leader of their party.

     As numerous others have mentioned, Trump's personal behavior has obscured some of the more important developments taking place in the real political world. Hard news has a difficult time competing with sexy women and pee tapes.  We call it “hard news” because sometimes it may be hard to absorb the complexity of a particular political development.  There are nuanced arguments that must be considered.  This is an anathema to today's instant I-don't-have-time-for-this world.  The Statistic Brain Research Institute tells us that the average attention span for Americans is 8 seconds, 33% less than in 2000.  The attention span of a goldfish, we are told, is 9 seconds.  That makes serious policy discussion virtually impossible among a populace that is far more interested in Beyonce and Jay-Z than they are, for example, in energy policy.

     Which brings me around to the subject of energy policy.


     In late fall of last year the City of Point Arena got a new solid waste hauler.  Recology Inc has purchased Pacific Coast Disposal, a subsidiary of North Bay Corp, a subsidiary of The Ratto Group, which is leaving the solid waste business.  Like many corporate structures the solid waste business has experienced may acquisitions and name changes.  Recology's roots began in 1921 in San Francisco as the Scavenger's Protective Association.  In 1965 they became Golden Gate Disposal.  By 1986 they were known as Norcal Waste Systems at which time they were sold to their employees, making them  currently the largest 100% employee-owned company in the solid waste collection and processing industries, with over 3,000 employees.  A year later they purchased Sunset Scavenger, their Bay Area counterpart for many years.  In 2009 Norcal Waste Systems changed it name to Recology Inc.

     Every month I get a comment or two from someone who has read my previous column.  Last month when I wrote about problems getting a building permit  I really touched a nerve.  People now come up to me with their stories of woe such that I feel like I accidentally began a sort of "Me-Too" moment for frustrated permit seekers.  I am still waiting for someone to tell me that things aren't so bad—that they got through the system with minimal difficulty.