Centralized Storage

With the scientifically unsound proposed Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump now canceled, the danger of "interim" storage threatens. This means that radioactive waste could be "temporarily" parked in open air lots, vulnerable to accident and attack, while a new repository site is sought.



Beyond Nuclear testifies before Congress against Mobile Chernobyl, Yucca, and parking lot dumps

Detailed maps showing DOE's proposed Yucca dump bound high-level radioactive waste rail shipping routes in downtown Chicago.Beyond Nuclear's radioactive waste watchdog, Kevin Kamps, was invited as a witness at a hearing on "Transporting Nuclear Materials," held by the U.S. House of Representatives Energy & Commerce Committee, Environment and the Economy Subcommittee on Oct. 1st. See the hearing description, with links to the witnesses' written testimony, as well as a video recording of the hearing, here.

On the video recording, Kevin's opening remarks begin at the 1:09:50 mark, and end at 1:15:26. A question and answer exchange between Ranking Democrat, Paul Tonko of NY, and Kevin begins at 1:25:05, and ends at 1:27:42 (Kevin discusses the Baltimore train tunnel fire of July, 2001, and the reportedly large number of latent cancer fatalities and astronomical clean up costs that would have resulted, had high-level radioactive waste been on board).

(Note that the hearing began more than 30 minutes late, so the beginning of the video recording is blank. Also, the quality of the video recording is poor, with many skips.)

Read Kevin's introductory remarks, as well as his full written testimony. Working with David Kraft, executive director of Nuclear Energy Information Service of Chicago, Kevin also prepared this backgrounder, to set the record straight on high-level radioactive waste shipments targeted at downtown Chicago, under the Department of Energy's Yucca Mountain dump transportation plan. Robert Halstead, now director of the State Agency for Nuclear Projects in the Nevada governor's office, also prepared detailed maps showing Chicago area Yucca dump shipping routes. (see map, above left)

Claims by a number of hearing witnesses that high-level radioactive waste shipping accidents in the past had never experienced radioactive releases or leaks has also been debunked by a 1996 Halstead report, citing federal government documents.

Learn more about the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's attempt to revive the cancelled Yucca dump, by visiting Beyond Nuclear's Yucca Mountain website section. There, you'll learn how you can submit public comments on NRC's Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the dangerous Yucca dump proposal.


DTE doesn't oppose holding Fermi 3 Nuclear Waste Confidence matters in abeyance, pending resolution of NY v. NRC II appeal

On July 31st, Detroit Edison filed a response to Beyond Nuclear et al.'s motion to hold the proposed new Fermi 3 atomic reactor proceeding in abeyance. The nuclear utility agreed with Beyond Nuclear that the Nuclear Waste Confidence aspects of the proceeding should be held in abeyance, pending resolution of New York v. NRC II. However, DTE emphasized its desire that the other matters on appeal -- namely, quality assurance (or lack thereof), and transmission corridor "pre-construction" National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)-compliance (or lack thereof) -- be resolved ASAP.

Detroit Edison proposes building a General Electric-Hitachi ESBWR (so-called "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor") at its Fermi nuclear power plant site in Monroe County, MI, on the Lake Erie shoreline.

Away from reactor, centralized or consolidated interim storage, is an aspect of NRC's Nuclear Waste Confidence policy, renamed Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel in 2014. NRC has expressed continued confidence that irradiated nuclear fuel can, and will, be stored safely, securely, and soundly, indefinitely into the future. This "assumed safety" applies not only at on-site storage at reactor sites, but also away from reactors, at centrailzed interim storage sites.

Beyond Nuclear's appeal against Nuclear Waste Confidence at Fermi 3 challenges this "assumption of safety." NEPA requires a "hard look," actual concerted analysis, at environmental impacts of a proposed action, such as NRC approving new reactor licenses, as at Fermi 3, which will inevitably lead to the generation, and storage, of high-level radioactive waste. And the Atomic Energy Act requires NRC establish "reasonable assurance of adequate protection" of public health and safety, which NRC has not done in its Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel GEIS (Generic Environmental Impact Statement) and Rule.


Senate Appropriations bill contains funding for creation of high-level radioactive waste "parking lot dumps" targeted at TX and NM

As reported by Devin Henry in The Hill, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has not included funding in the Energy and Water Development section of the Senate Appropriations bill to revive the cancelled Yucca Mountain, Nevada radioactive waste dump. However, Alexander -- a long time Yucca dump supporter -- has made clear that the Senate floor debate of the Appropriations bill would be a good place to add Yucca dump funding by amendment.

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), the Democratic Leader of the U.S. Senate, can be expected to fight any such amendment with everything he's got. After all, he's been successfully leading the fight against the Yucca dump since the "Screw Nevada bill" of 1987, when he was a rookie Senator.

President Obama has also opposed the Yucca dump as "unworkable" -- de-funding the project, and even moving to withdraw the U.S. Department of Energy's application to construct and operate the high-level radioactive waste dump in Nevada.

The U.S. House has included funding for Yucca's U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licensing proceeding. A conference committee between House and Senate appropriators would be another juncture for Yucca dump opponents to remain vigilant against funding being added to the bill.

Alexander's Senate Appropriations Bill language also includes funding for centralized, or consolidated, storage of commercial irradiated fuel -- something opponents have dubbed de facto permanent parking lot dumps. Nuclear boosters near the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in NM, as well as at Waste Control Specialists in Texas, have expressed interest in becoming consolidated interim storage sites -- for a price.

Alexander's provision, supported by ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein on the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, would launch unprecedented numbers of risky high-level radioactive waste trucks, trains, and barges onto the roads, rails, and waterways.


"They're baaaaaaaaaack!" The return of the Mobile Chernobyl bill on Capitol Hill

An infrared photo showing the thermal heat of a German CASTOR cask filled with irradiated nuclear fuel being transported by rail to Gorleben. The high-level radioactivity, not the thermal heat, is the hazard to human health, safety, and the environment, however.As trumpeted by its "Gang of Four" co-sponsors (Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Democrats Maria Cantwell of Washington State and Dianne Feinstein of California) in a press release, the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2015 has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

Although the devil is always in the details, and further careful analysis and comparison is required, on the surface it appears that this session's bill is very similar to previous attempts in the Senate to open a "pilot" parking lot dump for commercial high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) in less than a decade, followed a few years later by a full-scale parking lot dump. This included Senate Bill (S.B.) 1240, the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013, about which Beyond Nuclear published a comprehensive critique of the scheme's many risks.

As of April 3rd, the current Senate bill, given the bill number S. 854, is not yet available for public review. Only basic information about the proposed legislation is yet available.

Targeted locations for "consolidated" or "centralized interim storage sites" have yet to be specified. However, Waste Control Specialists in Andrews County, Texas -- already threatening the adjacent Ogallala Aquifer with so-called "low" level radioactive waste burials -- has volunteered to become a parking lot dump. Pro-nuclear "booster clubs" at Savannah River Site, South Carolina, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, New Mexico, and elsewhere are also blinded by radioactive dollar signs, and offering their "services."

Other top targets include nuclear power plants, such as Dresden in Illinois, as well as Native American reservations. The latter is an egregious example of environmental racism.

The press release speaks of "priority" transfers of irradiated nuclear fuel. "Stranded" or "orphaned" irradiated fuel, from permanently shutdown and even completely decommissioned nuclear power plants, would be given priority by the bill. "Emergency" transfers are also mentioned, as from on-site storage locations at risk of natural disasters.

Even the "pilot" parking lot dump would launch unprecented numbers of HLRW shipments, by truck, train, and/or barge onto the roads, rails, and/or waterways. The full-scale parking lot dump scheme would involve even greater numbers of potential Mobile Chernobyls, Floating Fukushimas, and dirty bombs on wheels.

However, as was made clear by the Private Fuel Storage fiasco, shipments to parking lot dumps could be "returned to sender," if permanent repository plans fall through. If 50 casks of HLRW had ever been shipped from the Maine Yankee atomic reactor and parked at the Skull Valley Goshutes Indian Reservation in Utah, they would have had to be shipped back to their point of origin when the Yucca Mountain, Nevada dump was canceled by the Obama administration. A 4,000-mile round trip, all for naught -- risking radiological disaster every mile of the way, as from severe accidents or even attacks.

As described by a U.S. Department of Energy blog, the Senate bill announcement came on the same day as Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced a major reversal of U.S. radioactive waste policy. Decades-old plans to "co-mingle" nuclear weapons HLRWs and commercial irradiated fuel are over. Separate repositories for permanent disposal of "defense" and commercial HLRWs will now be built. In addition, Moniz expressed full DOE support for congressional calls for "centralized interim storage" parking lot dumps.

Moniz spoke at the Bipartisan Policy Center. A case study of the revolving door between government, industry, and academia, or the incenstuous nature of the nuclear establishment, Moniz served on President Obama's Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) for America's Nuclear Future from 2010-12. (For that matter, the BRC was housed at DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy, charged with promoting the atomic industry!) So too did former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Allison Macfarlane, as well as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. BRC member, U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), serves at the Bipartisan Policy Center, as does the former BRC Designated Federal Officer, Timothy Frazier. (As described in his BPC bio, Frazier worked for 20 years, including in the promotional Office of Nuclear Energy, on all aspects of nuclear power and radioactive waste, and even as a nuclear weapons engineer.) John Kotek, currently DOE principal deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Nuclear Energy, was staff director of the BRC (see Kotek's DOE blog, linked above).

The simultaneous timing of Moniz's announcements, and the Senate bill launch, begs the question: were they coincidental, or coordinated?


Margene Bullcreek, leader of Skull Valley Goshute resistance to radioactive waste dump targeted at her community, has passed on

Margene Bullcreek. Photo by Gabriela Bulisova.It is with heavy hearts that we share the sad news that Margene Bullcreek passed on, on Sunday, March 1st, 2015. An In Memoriam has been issued by her colleague Ian Zabarte of the Native Community Action Council (NCAC), where Margene Bullcreek has long served as President.

As emphasized in a NIRS victory tribute, published in Sept., 2006, when the U.S. Department of the Interior effectively blocked the Private Fuel Storage, LLC high-level radioactive waste parking lot dump targeted at her community in Utah:

"The greatest commendations, of course, go to Margene Bullcreek and her organization Ohngo Gaudadeh Devia Awareness (OGDA)...". More.