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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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Tuesday
May192015

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.

Tuesday
Mar242015

"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?

Tuesday
Mar032015

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.

Wednesday
Feb252015

NRC Commissioners to reveal votes on Nuke Waste Con Game Thursday, Feb. 25

Portrait of the current NRC Commission. Pictured from left to right: Commissioner Jeff Baran, Commissioner Kristine L. Svinicki, Chairman Stephan (sic) Burns and Commissioner William C. Ostendorff. (Please note, Chairman Burns' first named is correctly spelled Stephen. His first name is misspelled in the text, below this portrait, posted on NRC's homepage.)The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Electronic Information Exchange (EIE) Hearing Docket this morning served to following notice to intervening parties against old reactor license extensions, as well as proposed new reactor combined construction and operating license applications:

"NOTICE TO THE PARTIES IN:

Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant, Units 3 and 4, Docket Nos. 52-014-COL & 52-015-COL
Callaway Plant, Unit 1, Docket No. 50-483-LR
Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant, Units 3 and 4, Docket Nos. 52-034-COL & 52-035-COL
Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, Unit 1, Docket No. 50-346-LR
Diablo Canyon Power Plant, Units 1 and 2, Docket Nos. 50-275-LR & 50-323-LR
Fermi Nuclear Power Plant, Unit 3, Docket No. 52-033-COL
Fermi Nuclear Power Plant, Unit 2, Docket No. 50-341-LR

Indian Point Nuclear Generating Units 2 and 3, Docket Nos. 50-247-LR & 50-286-LR
Levy County Nuclear Power Plant, Units 1 and 2, Docket Nos. 52-029-COL & 52-030-COL
North Anna Power Station, Unit 3, Docket No. 52-017-COL
Seabrook Station, Unit 1, Docket No. 50-443-LR
Sequoyah Nuclear Plant, Units 1 and 2, Docket Nos. 50-327-LR & 50-328-LR
South Texas Project, Units 3 and 4, Docket Nos. 52-012-COL & 52-013-COL
South Texas Project, Units 1 and 2, Docket Nos. 50-498-LR & 50-499-LR
Turkey Point, Units 6 and 7, Docket Nos. 52-040-COL & 52-041-COL
Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, Unit 2, Docket No. 50-391-OL
William States Lee III Nuclear Station, Units 1 and 2, Docket Nos. 52-018-COL & 52-019-COL

The Commission has scheduled a tentative Affirmation Session for Thursday, February 26, 2015, 12:55 p.m. EST, that addresses the Petitions to Suspend Reactor Licensing Decisions and Reactor License Renewal Decisions Pending Issuance of "Waste Confidence" Safety Findings, filed on Multiple Dockets.

Note: This session will be publicly webcast.  Please use the link below to view the session.

http://www.nrc.gov/public-involve/public-meetings/webcast-live.html ".

The NRC Commissioners' votes are relevant to centralized storage, for NRC's "nuke waste con game" assumes that consolidated interim storage can continue indefinitely into the future, safely and soundly. However, the Continued Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage rule and environmental impact statement, as the discredited "Nuclear Waste Confidence" policy has been renamed (liguistically detoxified), is not legally sufficient in making such optimistic assumptions. In fact, the rule and EIS avoid making those assumptions official or explicit, which is why they violate such laws as the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

As indicated by the bolded text above, Beyond Nuclear is directly, officially intervening against the 20-year license extensions proposed at Davis-Besse, OH (a Three Mile Island twin design), Fermi 2, MI (a Fukushima Daiichi twin design), and Seabrook, NH. In addition, Beyond Nuclear is an official intervenor against the proposed new reactor at Fermi 3, MI.

Thus, the NRC Commissioners will rule, on Feb. 26th, on a coalition of environmental intervenors' Petition to Suspend Licensing and Re-licensing of Reactors. That Petition was filed on Sept. 29, 2014, by some three dozen organizations, engaged in the 27 pending, individual reactor NRC licensing proceedings listed above.

As explained by Diane Curran and Mindy Goldstein, the attorneys representing the environmental coalition, "the Petition accompanied [the groups'] contentions challenging the NRC's failure to make Atomic Energy Act-required Waste Confidence safety findings in those cases." (Attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo serves as the environmental coalition legal counsel in the Davis-Besse and Fermi 2 & 3 proceedings listed above.)

The Petition, as well as the contentions in the individual proceedings, would form the basis for an appeal to the federal courts regarding NRC's 2014 Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel rule and environmental impact statement.

Although NRC Commissioners Kristine L. Svinicki and William C. Ostendorff voted in favor of the finalization of the Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel rule and environmental impact statement last year, the other two NRC Commissioners -- Chairman Stephen G. Burns, and Commissioner Jeff Baran -- were not yet serving in 2014. (The fifth seat on the NRC Commission currently remains unfilled.) See the photo, above left.

Friday
Dec202013

Beyond Nuclear meets NRC's "Nuclear Waste Con Game" DGEIS public comment deadline

Environmental coalition members from the Crabshell Alliance, Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Campaign, NIRS, PSR, NEIS, and Public Citizen "just say NO!" at the NRC HQ nuke waste con game public comment meeting on 11/14 in Rockville, MD. Photo credit David Martin and Erica GA special thank you to all those who took action, as urged in Beyond Nuclear's weekly email bulletins, and submitted comments in writing to NRC, or testified orally at public meetings. The final count is not in yet, but it's safe to say many hundreds -- if not thousands -- of high-quality comments were submitted by the Dec. 20th deadline.

In addition to its involvement in environmental coalition efforts, Beyond Nuclear also submitted its own public comments to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) re: its "Nuclear Waste Confidence" Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS) deadline on Dec. 20th. Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Kevin Kamps, submitted comments, as well as supporting documents (Exhibits: A to E; F to I; and J to O).

Kay Drey, a Beyond Nuclear board of directors member based in St. Louis, MO, also submitted comments. Kay is also the author of the numerous pamphlets listed below, and the inspiration behind the Dec. 2-3, 2012 "Mountain of Radioactive Waste 70 Years High" conference held at the U. of Chicago mentioned below.

Paul Gunter, Director of Beyond Nuclear's Reactor Oversight Project, also submitted comments, telling the inspiring story of "at least 92 of 137 towns adopted identical language 'to oppose the burial, storage, transportation and production of high-level radioactive waste' in New Hampshire" in 1986. In a tremendous grassroots democracy victory, town warrant articles were passed across "the Granite State" -- the month before Chernobyl exploded and 25 years before Fukushima Daiichi melted down -- in opposition to the Department of Energy's proposal to destroy seven historic New Hampshire towns in order to build a national geologic repository for high-level radioactive waste beneath them.

In Nov. 2007, amidst the presidential primary campaign then raging in New Hampshire, Beyond Nuclear published a fact sheet entitled "A New Hampshire High-Level Radioactive Waste Dump?" In the section on "What's at Stake?", Beyond Nuclear reported:

"Several towns, including Hillsborough (frequently spelled Hillsboro), New Hampshire sit atop a large granite formation identified as the “Cardigan Pluton.” The rock body is part of the DOE’s Crystalline Rock Repository Project to site a second national nuclear waste repository. If selected, the populations declining a federal buyout would be subject to relocation and their property seized by eminent domain for the deep geological repository. This dubious distinction persists despite many geological and hydrological flaws in the candidate site including rock fractures, high amounts of rainfall, broad uncertainty about groundwater movement through the rock body and migration of radioactivity from nuclear waste into aquifers for drinking and agricultural irrigation supplies for large populations.  

In addition to the environmental impacts, federal confiscation would adversely impact the deep historical significance of the area: the nearby town of Washington, the first town in the U.S. to be named after our first president, just after the Revolutionary War; numerous preserved stone arch masonry bridges; the Franklin Pierce Homestead, the home of the 14th President of the United States; the founding congregation and church of the Seventh Day Adventist denomination are examples. There is also the natural beauty of the area: forested hills, scenic lakes and river-ways. Much of this, along with picturesque, historic towns and villages would cease to exist if a national high-level radioactive waste dump opened in New Hampshire."

In fact, as the Beyond Nuclear backgrounder warned, in the waning days of the George W. Bush administration in late 2008, Energy Secretary Bodman issued a Report on the Need for a Second Repository that indeed listed both New Hampshire and Maine (and most of the rest of the Lower 48) on the target list.  (The map on page 12 showed this.)                 

Re: NRC's nuke waste con game deadline, Kevin also submitted the following additional comments: regarding nuclear industry whistleblower Oscar Shirani's revelations on Holtec dry cask Quality Assurance violations, and NRC dry cask storage inspector Dr. Ross Landsman's support for Shirani; a cover letter and backgrounder on dry cask storage problems; a cover letter, and the Statement of Principles for Safeguarding Nuclear Waste at Reactors, in support of Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS), signed by hundreds of environmental groups representing all 50 states; a cover letter, and the Beyond Nuclear fact sheet "Catastrophic Risks of GE BWR Mark I High-Level Radioactive Waste Storage Pools"; a cover letter, and Beyond Nuclear pamphlet "Routine Radioactive Releases from U.S. Nuclear Power Plants," as well as a chart, prepared by Russell Hoffman, showing into which particular organs specific radioactive contaminants lodge to cause harm in the human body; a cover letter, packet of materials from "A Mountain of Radioactive Waste 70 Years High" conference, and Beyond Nuclear pamphlet of the same title; a cover letter, and assorted humorous placards, prepared by NEIS for a "nuke waste con game" of "nuclear bingo" at NRC's public comment meeting in Oak Brook, IL; a cover letter, and Beyond Nuclear pamphlets "Dirty, Dangerous, and Expensive," as well as "Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing = Weapons Proliferation"; a cover letter, and sheet prepared by NEIS entitled "It All Boils Down To -- Do We Trust the NRC?".

In addition, Kevin had earlier submitted oral comments at a number of NRC public meetings:

Rockville, MD NRC HQ call-in public comment meeting, Dec. 9th (see NRC's transcript, including Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear's testimony at transcript pages 30-34, and again at transcript pages 60-62).

Perrysburg, OH NRC public comment meeting, Dec. 2nd:

Kevin made points site-specific to Great Lakes reactors, including to Palisades in MI and to Davis-Besse near Perrysburg, from minute 3:00 to 8:37 on a video recording of the public meeting, filmed by Kathy Barnes of Don't Waste MI (Part 4). (Kathy coordinates the Don't Waste MI Facebook page.)

(See the NRC transcript of the meeting, including Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear's comments from pages 41 to 45 of the transcript.)

NRC HQ (Rockville, MD) public comment meeting, Nov. 14th:

See the transcript from the meeting, including Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear's remarks from page 102-107.

Oak Brook, IL public comment meeting, Nov. 12th:

See the transcript from this public comment meeting, including Kevin Kamps from Beyond Nuclear's remarks at transcript pages 50 to 54.

NRC HQ public comment meeting, Rockville, MD, Oct. 1, 2013:

See the transcript of the meeting, including Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear's testimony at pages 37-41 of the transcript.