Focus Point - Nuclear Waste

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. This story, reported in the New York Times, isn't exactly policy wonk stuff, but it's just too good not to pass on.

Guess what they're about to use to absorb nuclear waste?

About 1,000 scientists have spent 18 years and a billion-and-a-half dollars using all sorts of high tech tricks trying to clean up a polluted nuclear site in upstate New York. Now, they're trying Zeolyte -- the main ingredient in cat litter.

The West Valley site is leaking radioactive goo into ground water that seeps into Lake Erie. So they're digging a trench around the dump and filling it with Zeolyte. Who'd have thought that along with cat odors, it also soaks up strontium 90? They'll know fairly soon if it works. If it does, the total cost will be a mere $1.5 million.

But what if it does work? Will there be a cat litter shortage? Will Zeolyte exporting countries corner the market and run up the price? And what do I tell my cat when the cat litter cupboards are bare?

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, wasting money.