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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.

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Thursday
Jun212018

Environmental coalition urges Congress to defund environmentally unjust nuke waste dumps

As fast and furious congressional votes on annual appropriations regarding energy-related matters take place on Capitol Hill, Beyond Nuclear has joined with scores of allied environmental and environmental justice organizations in urging the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to stop funding for both the Yucca Mountain, Nevada permanent burial dump scheme, as well as the de facto permanent, surface storage, "parking lot dumps" targeted at the New Mexico/Texas borderlands. These commercial irradiated nuclear fuel dump schemes have long targeted low income, and/or people of color communities: Western Shoshone Indian land at Yucca Mountain, NV; and already heavily polluted (from fossil fuel and nuclear industries) Hispanic communities near the Holtec/Eddy-Lea [Counties] Energy Alliance, NM, and Waste Control Specialists, LLC, TX so-called "centralized interim storage facilities" (CISFs). In fact, Holtec International's previous attempt at "temporary storage" for highly radioactive waste ("Private Fuel Storage, LLC," or PFS) was targeted at the tiny, low income Skull Valley Goshutes Indian Reservation in Utah, blocked by a tireless nationwide EJ coalition campaign, led by Skull Valley traditionals Margene Bullcreek and Sammy Blackbear. In fact, southeast NM has previously been targeted for a CISF, at the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation, but traditionals Rufina Marie Laws and Joe Geronimo led the successful opposition that blocked it. The nuclear establishment -- the nuclear power industry itself, Congress, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), etc. -- has long been guilty of "radioactive racism," targeting scores of Native American reservations and lands for such dumps, but thus far have been blocked by traditionals like Grace Thorpe of the Sauk and Fox Reservation in Oklahoma.

What can you do to help stop such environmentally unjust radioactive waste dumps? Contact your U.S. Rep., as well as both your U.S. Senators, and urge them to block the Yucca dump, as well as CISFs. (You can also be patched through to your members of congress by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.) The opening of either the Yucca of CISF dumps would launch unprecedented large numbers of highly radioactive waste shipments, by road, rail, and/or waterway, through most states (including high-risk impacts on a large number of Native American reservations). And please continue to submit comments to NRC in opposition to the Holtec/ELEA CISF targeted at southeastern NM, by the July 30th deadline.

Tuesday
Jun192018

NRDC, 39 Other Organizations Express Concern with Nuclear Waste Provision in Energy & Water Appropriations Bill

As posted at NRDC's (Natural Resource Defense Council) website:

In a letter to the U.S. Senate, NRDC joined 39 other organizations [including Beyond Nuclear] in raising concern over a controversial nuclear waste provision (Sec. 304) inserted into the FY2019 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (S. 2975), which is set for a vote on the Senate floor at any moment.

The Appropriations Committee wisely avoided controversy on the Energy and Water Appropriations Act by rejecting the inclusion of harmful riders from the House bill and rejecting damaging cuts proposed by the administration. However, Sec. 304 of the bill is an invitation for contentiousness. This section would unwisely alter our nation’s nuclear waste policies to prioritize the misguided aim of getting an interim spent fuel storage facility up and running as soon as possible at the expense of durable, lasting solutions like publicly accepted and scientifically defensible repository disposal. This provision has no place in an appropriations bill.

[See the full text of the letter, and the list of signatory groups, here.]

Wednesday
Jun132018

Coalition Letter to NRC, re: Failure of Regulations.gov for Comments on Scope of EIS for Holtec/ELEA CISF

Beyond Nuclear's legal counsel, Diane Curran, of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, L.L.P. in Washington, D.C.Beyond Nuclear's legal counsel, Diane Curran of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, L.L.P. in Washington, D.C. (photo, left), today submitted a letter to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), on behalf of a coalition including Don't Waste Michigan (represented by legal counsel Terry Lodge), Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety (CCNS), Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), and Nuclear Issues Study Group (NISG).

The letter regards Failure of Regulations.gov for comments on Scope of EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] for Holtec International HI-STORE Consolidated Interim Storage Facility Project, Docket No. 72-1051; NRC-2018-0052.

In the Federal Register Notice published March 30, 2018, NRC announced a 60-day public comment period for environmental scoping on the Holtec/Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA) proposal for a massive (173,600 metric ton) irradiated nuclear fuel centralized interim storage facility (CISF) in southeastern New Mexico. A primary mechanism for public comments to be submitted was via Regulations.gov, the NRC announced in its Federal Register Notice.

(In May, NRC granted a 60 day extension for public comments, in partial response to a request from 52 groups, including Beyond Nuclear. Thus, NRC extended the original deadline from May 29, until the current deadline of July 30, 2018.)

However, Regulations.gov has been spotty at best, from April onwards. In fact, from May 18 until June 7, 2018, Regulations.gov did not work at all -- as experienced by several members of the public who attempted to submit comments, including Beyond Nuclear's staff.

Beyond Nuclear, as well as Nuclear Issues Study Group of Albuquerque, NM, alerted NRC to the problem on May 22nd. But NRC denied the problem existed at all, and did nothing that fixed the problem, which continued till June 7th.

NRC said in response that there were other mechanisms for submitting comments, such as an email address. But the only reason NRC established an email address for submitting comments was in response to a request made by Joni Arends of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety of Santa Fe, NM. Arends made the request at the May 1st NRC public comment meeting in Hobbs, NM. The reason Arends made the request in the first place is because she and others had already had so much difficulty with the spotty Regulations.gov site!

In today's letter, the enviironmental coalition has requested from NRC an additional 90 days of public comment opportunity (that is, a further extension, until October 30th). The coalition has also demanded that NRC make sure Regulations.gov is consistently working properly, or else replace it with another, functional public comment mechanism. All of this must be made official by NRC, with another updated Federal Register Notice.

We urge concerned citizens and environmental groups to take full advantage of this public comment opportunity. To see sample comments you can use to help you prepare your own, as well as instructions for how to submit them by the deadline, click here.

(Email and snail mail options for submitting comments are available, and Regulations.gov itself has supposedly been working again since June 7th.)

Despite the latter, we are still demanding 90 additional days for the public to submit comments. That is, we are urging NRC to extend the current July 30th deadline till October 30th. We'll keep you posted as to our success with this request!

Friday
Jun082018

WCS has requested that NRC restart its licensing proceeding for a CISF in Andrews County, TX

Logo for Interim Storage Partners, a new name for Waste Control Speclaists, LLC's proposed CISF in western TexasBad news update: Waste Control Specialists, LLC in Andrews County, western Texas -- just 40 miles from the Holtec site in southeastern New Mexico -- has requested NRC restart its license application proceeding for a CISF (Centralized Interim Storage Facility), suspended a year ago due to the company's bankruptcy!

See the June 8, 2018 letter sent to NRC by the latest incarnation of the WCS CISF nuclear industry consortium, requesting a restart of the licensing proceeding.

WCS proposes to "temporarily" store 40,000 metric tons of highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel, as well as highly radioactive so-called "Greater-Than-Class-C low-level radioactive waste" (GTCC LLRW) on the state line of New Mexico in extreme western Texas, just four miles from the Hispanic community of Eunice, New Mexico.

The WCS CISF has adopted a new name and logo -- Interim Storage Partners. See left. Note that the logo could indicate an interest to engage in so-called "recycling" of the highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel -- that is, reprocessing.

The Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA), the partner with Holtec International in a second CISF scheme located just 40 miles away from WCS across the TX/NM state line, also uses a logo -- a recycling symbol surrounding an atom -- that clearly indicates its desire to reprocess the 173,600 metric tons of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel it has proposed "temporarily storing" there.

Reprocessing is a very bad idea, as has been shown in France. But then again, a major partner of WCS's CISF, and now Interim Storage Partners, is Areva of France, which has recently changed its name to Orano. Before it was called Areva, it was called Cogema. Areva/Orano engages in large-scale irradiated nuclear fuel reprocessing in France.

Reprocessing risks nuclear weapons proliferation. It also causes very large-scale releases of hazardous radioactivity into air and water, even during so-called "routine operations" (let alone a catastrophic accident, as occurred in Khystym in the Ural Mountains of Russian Siberia in 1957). And reprocessing is astronomically expensive -- and the public will be asked to pay for it all. See Beyond Nuclear's pamphlet for more info.

The new owner announced several weeks ago it intended to request a restart of the proceeding, and has now done so.

Thursday
May312018

Get your community to pass a resolution opposing CISFs, and the Mobile Chernobyls they would launch across the country!

***Good news update! Bernalillo County, New Mexico, home to the state's largest city, Albuquerque, passed a resolution on June 12 opposing Holtec. The resolution passed by a unanimous vote of 4 to 0! As soon as the official text of the resolution is available, we will post a link to it here.***

The groundswell of resistance against Holtec International/Eddy-Lea [Counties] Energy Alliance's proposed centralized interim storage facility (CISF) for highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel has included resolutions (sometimes called memorials), passed by elected bodies of local government.

For example, New Mexico's largest city, Albuquerque, passed a city council memorial against the Holtec/ELEA CISF on May 21, 2018.

The city of Jal, in NM's southeast corner which is targeted for the Holtec/ELEA CISF, passed a resolution against the scheme on May 29, 2018.

But the first municipality in NM to pass a resolution against the Holtec/ELEA CISF was Lake Arthur, also in the southeastern corner of the state, on September 7, 2017.

Please urge your city council, county commission, and even state legislature to consider passing a resolution or similar measure in opposition to Holtec/ELEA's CISF, and the high-risk, highly radioactive waste trucks, trains, and/or barges it would launch by the many thousands, over the course of decades. You can use the NM resolutions above as models, which your elected officials can use to write their own resolutions.

But you can also use resolutions passed by Texas communities as models for resolutions in your area. These were passed last year, in opposition to another CISF, this one called Waste Control Specialists, LLC in Andrews County, west Texas. Although the licensing proceeding for WCS's CISF was suspended last summer, as Bloomberg Environment has reported, that licensing proceeding could restart in June 2018:

Nuclear services company Orano USA [formerly known as Areva, the U.S. arm of the French government owned nuclear giant] and Waste Control Specialists will ask regulators in June to resume reviewing an application to bring used fuel to a site that already stores low-level waste. The focus is on fuel from shuttered reactors, said Jeff Isakson, CEO of the joint venture Interim Storage Partners.

Thanks to the website No Nuclear Waste Aqui (Aqui means "here" in Spanish) for providing these links to the Texas resolutions:

County Resolutions:

Holtec/ELEA's CISF would involve significantly more highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel than would the proposed Yucca Mountain, Nevada permanent burial dump, under current law. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act, as Amended, limits the Yucca dump to a total of 70,000 Metric Tons of highly radioactive waste, only 63,000 MT of which could be commercial irradiated nuclear fuel.

By contrast, the Holtec/ELEA CISF could store as much as 173,600 MT of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel, or nearly three times as much as current law would allow at the Yucca dump!

Transport impacts across the country, from the high-risk shipment (by truck, train, and/or barge) of irradiated nuclear fuel, would thus be that much worse in relation to the Holtec/ELEA CISF than they would be for the Yucca, NV dump.

If also constructed and operated, the WCS CISF in w. TX would add up to another 40,000 MT of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel onto the roads, rails, and/or waterways, bound for the TX/NM borderlands. Holtec/ELEA and WCS are only 40 miles away from each other, across the state line!

The State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects has published the following route maps, and shipment numbers, in the context of the 70,000 MT Yucca dump. You'll see that 44 states, many major cities, and 330 of the 435 U.S. congressional districts across the country would be impacted by Yucca-bound shipments:

While NV-bound, and TX/NM borderlands-bound, waste shipments would not follow the exact same routes, the further away from the American Southwest that waste shipments originate, the more similar or even identical would be the initial routing for waste exports -- as from atomic reactors on the East and West Coasts, as well as the Midwest and Southeast. Only as the shipments came closer to their final destination (NV, or TX/NM), would the routes then diverge. So the Yucca-bound route maps above give a good idea, in many parts of the country, as to the routes that NM- or TX-bound waste shipments would also follow.

All that said, that is not even the whole story about transport risks. There is also the potential for very large numbers of high-risk barge shipments on surface waterways -- on the oceans, along seacoasts; on rivers; on the Great Lakes. See these backgrounders. Although these particular barge shipment routes are in the context of the Yucca dump, these very same waterways could and would be used for barge shipments invovled in the NM/TX CISF schemes.

And check out these resolutions, passed decades ago in the fight against the Yucca dump:

Get your local community to pass a resolution opposing nuclear waste shipments through it! - Sample Resolution

Several jurisdictions have passed resolutions or taken other action against dangerous and unnecessary radioactive waste transportation based on the sample below. These include:

(5/28/1996);

  • United Transportation Union (2/25/1999) ;
  • Gary, IN 6/1/1999;

These are posted at this archived NIRS website (see the right hand side margin).

Note that many, but not all, of the listed resolutions above have hot links. So pass your cursor over the name of the municipality, and click through to see the resolution, for many (but not all) of them.

Although dated and in need of updating, as well as "translation" from the Yucca issue to the current CISF issue in TX/NM, they can nonetheless provide more sample language for the composing of resolutions in your community! (We also need resolutions against the Yucca dump and the Mobile Chernobyls it would launch, as pro-Yucca dump advocates strive to resurrect that zombie nuke waste dump!)

As the archived NIRS site reads:

If you know of others which already have taken action, let us know. Join the fun, get your local government to pass a resolution too.

(Just to show how powerful such resolution campaigns can be, check out the work of Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump. At last count, STGLND had gathered 230 resolutions, representing 23.4 million people in the Great Lakes region, in opposition to Ontario Power Generation's scheme to bury "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive wastes on the shore of the Great Lakes. This resolutions drive has been an essential part of staving off, thus far, this insane proposal, which would put at risk the drinking water supply for 40 million people in numerous U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations. Learn more about this issue at STGLND's website, as well as at Beyond Nuclear's CANADA website section. We need to build the same momentum against CISFs, by passing resolutions all along the transport routes across the U.S.!)