|Don Shettel, Ph.D., is the Chairman and Vice President of Geosciences Management Institute, Inc., a company which has been operating from the office in Boulder City since 1990. Don has his own view of theYucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Project, and many other projects he has worked on over the years. Companies, governments, and individuals pay him because they value his analysis and his opinion. Right now, his main client is the State of Nevada, and his main project is Yucca Mountain.
"We are a contractor to the State of Nevada Nuclear Waste Projects Office," Shettel says. "Whatever we do goes to the State first and they decide what they want to do with it."
Don is working for the State, but he says his first goal is to be "objective and scientific" about things. Although Geosciences Management has done work in Egypt, Northern Nevada, Washington, and many other areas, the State Nuclear Waste Project is the main project keeping the Boulder City office open.
"Our second most prolific activity is geoacheology, but I'm not involved as much as my partner. We also get involved in legal cases where we are technical experts," he says.
Shettel's first involvement with nuclear stuff was after he finished graduate school and received his Ph.D. He went to work for Bendixs Field Engineering Company in Grand Junction, Colorado where they were working on a national uranium resource evaluation project to determine if the United States had enough uranium left in the ground. They wanted to determine whether they would have to reprocess nuclear fuel.
"Of course," Don says, "the way these political projects go, we found enough. So President Carter made a decision not to reprocess."
"What goes around, comes around" could be the appropriate axium here as Don Shettel finds himself, many years later, providing scientific information as to where, or whether the government can bury the "not to reprocess" radioactive nuclear material.
Because Yucca Mountain is also in our backyard and with shagrin, the State of Nevada and it's population, were told the federal government designated Yucca Mountain as the only site to be used for nuclear waste storage.
Because Shettel's job is to find out whether Yucca Mountain is appropriate for storage, I asked the following question. Were there any other possibilities for storage, or was Yucca Mountain selected because the federal government already owned the property?
"Yes. There were twelve or more sites they looked at in a cursery fashion, then narrowed it down to seven. In 1987 the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, which was endearingly termed the "Screw Nevada Bill," narrowed it down to just one site - Yucca Mountain."
Politics is usually involved and so it was with the Policy Act. Nevada, with its small population, didn't have the political pull to stop the states that don't want nuclear waste in their back yard.
Although Shettel's business has been deeply involved for the past several years providing information to the State of Nevada regarding Yucca Mountain, he also provides internet access to several clients to satisfy his interest in that area of science.
"We don't need to have a 'store front' (he is located in the Plaza behind Silver State bank.)
"We chose this space because there wasn't much to choose from in Boulder City when I came here."
Shettel's office may be unlike any you have seen in Boulder City. It's shelves overflow with reference books, reports, manuals, and of course, rocks. None, which he says, are radioactive. Don has at least three computers, one which was occupied for a while by a charming college student who was helping him with the Yucca Mountain Project.
He also has a large, stuffed couch which looks very napable, but I've only caught him sleeping there on a few occasions.
At night, his office is eerie and interesting. If you drive by and look very closely you may be able to see a strange green glow surrounding his equipment, shelves and books. Naw! Of course it's not radioactive.