Nuclear power waste and storage facility proposed for Ariz.

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Could Arizona become the next dumping ground for nuclear waste? That's exactly what one Arizona lawmaker is proposing.

So far the Arizona State Legislature is supporting his plan.

Critics say the proposal is simply irresponsible.

Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, has introduced legislation that would bring a nuclear waste recycling and storage facility to Arizona. Melvin said only four percent of the toxic waste would be buried. The rest of the waste would all be recycled.

This week, the legislature moved his proposal forward asking federal officials to consider Arizona for that multi-billion dollar facility.

"Arizona is interested in the subject of recycling spent nuclear fuel," said Melvin.

Melvin said that's the message the Arizona legislature sent to President Obama this week.

"Instead of burying spent nuclear fuel as was proposed for Yucca Mountain in Nevada we want to recycle it," Melvin explained.

Melvin said four Arizona communities, Kingman, Holbrook, Safford and Picacho Peak would be good sites for the nuclear waste recycling and storage facility, because each has plenty of solid salt.

That solid salt is perfect for storing the nuclear waste that can't be recycled, explained Melvin.

"Don't put it in Navajo County. Don't put it in Coconino County and don't put it in Yavapai County," said Rep. Tom Chabin, D-Flagstaff.

Chabin said the idea of recycling and storing nuclear waste is not acceptable to the people in his district.

"I am absolutely against it because I'm telling you we don't want it in our backyard in northern Arizona.

Sen. Melvin hopes the fear of nuclear waste will go away once officials in the four proposed areas take into account his estimate of adding 50,000 new jobs to their towns.