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Main | Summary of Oscar Shirani’s Allegations of Quality Assurance Violations Against Holtec Storage/Transport Casks »
Wednesday
Apr192017

Beyond Nuclear media statement re: WCS, TX request to NRC to suspend licensing for high-level radioactive waste centralized interim storage facility

News from Beyond Nuclear

For Immediate Release, April 19, 2017

Contact: Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Beyond Nuclear, (240) 462-3216; kevin@beyondnuclear.org

Beyond Nuclear Media Statement

re: Waste Control Specialists, LLC (WCS) request to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to suspend the licensing proceeding and environmental scoping on its application to open a Centralized Interim Storage Facility (CISF) for highly radioactive commercial irradiated nuclear fuel in Andrews County, Texas

Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear’s Radioactive Waste Watchdog, stated:

“This latest radioactive waste Ponzi scheme has collapsed under its own weight. In its request to NRC to suspend the proceedings, WCS acknowledged ‘enormous financial challenges.’ In other words, WCS’s financial assurances for the future, and financial status at present, are little more than a wobbly house of cards, that have now come crashing down.

First and foremost, although the nuclear power industry would never admit it, this is yet another clear sign that there is no good solution for the dilemma of its forever deadly high-level radioactive waste. For this reason alone, the four new reactors under construction in Georgia and South Carolina should be terminated, and 99 dangerously age-degraded atomic reactors, located in 30 states across the U.S., should be permanently shut down, as soon as possible. Their electricity can be readily replaced with clean, safe, and ever more affordable energy efficiency and renewable sources, such as wind and solar power.

Our coalition of environmental groups and concerned local residents near WCS, and along targeted high-level radioactive waste railways, waterways, and highways across the country, in most states, celebrate this hard-won victory. Given the proposed WCS CISF’s risks to the Ogallala Aquifer, as well as the area’s low-income Latin American communities, already heavily polluted by extensive nuclear and fossil fuel industries, this is most welcome good news for the environment and environmental justice.

Beyond Nuclear congratulates our legal counsel, Diane Curran of Washington, D.C., Robert Eye of Lawrence, Kansas, and Mindy Goldstein of Atlanta, Georgia, for their capable service as legal counsel to our environmental coalition opposing the WCS CISF.

We also congratulate our environmental coalition colleagues at SEED (Sustainable Energy & Economic Development) Coalition, Public Citizen’s Texas Office, Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), and most recently Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Campaign, including its legal counsel, Wally Taylor of Iowa, for their tireless commitment to this vital environmental justice fight.

And last but not least, we congratulate our allies at the grassroots, such as Rose Gardner in Eunice, NM, through whose community every single train car of high-level radioactive waste – up to 40,000 metric tons worth, about half of what currently exists in the U.S. -- bound for WCS, TX would pass. We are committed to trying to prevent this environmental injustice from ever coming to pass.

Our coalition will remain vigilant against any attempt by WCS to restart this licensing proceeding. We are equally committed to opposing, at every turn, the recently announced Holtec International/Eddy-Lea [Counties] Energy Alliance application to open a CISF, a mere 35 miles west of WCS, in New Mexico, very near WIPP. These twin proposals seek to turn this area into an ever-worsening nuclear sacrifice zone. This must be stopped.”

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Additional background information:

In its request to NRC to suspend the proceedings, WCS acknowledged ‘enormous financial challenges’:

WCS also is faced with a magnitude of financial burdens that currently make pursuit of licensing unsupportable. This is so because following the recent docketing of the CISF application in January 2017, the cost profile for WCS’ pursuit of the CISF application has increased dramatically.

The NRC recently provided WCS an estimate of the cost of the application review of $7.5 million, which is significantly higher than we originally estimated. Also, the costs associated with the commencement of the public participation process and a potential adjudicatory hearing before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, are estimated to be considerable, especially in the very near term. The cost sharing arrangement WCS had in place with one of its partners for this project has been depleted, and WCS has been unable to reach an agreement to extend these arrangements. At the same time, WCS has faced significant operating losses in each of its operating years, and the cost of actively pursuing the project only serves to increase those losses.

WCS nonetheless expresses optimism that its acquisition by competitor EnergySolutions (formerly EnviroCare) of Utah will enable the CISF application proceeding to resume, perhaps by as early as late summer 2017. But the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has taken antitrust legal action against the merger, scheduled for federal court hearings from April 24th to May 5th.  WCS’s confidence may well be false, given the unpredictable nature of the future court rulings.

WCS’s ‘enormous financial challenges’ also call into question whether CISF schemes even make good business sense. This specter will also haunt the prospects for the Holtec International/Eddy-Lea [Counties] Energy Alliance (ELEA) application to open a CISF a mere 35 miles to the west of WCS in New Mexico, very near the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), which has itself leaked plutonium and other radioactive wastes into the environment, internally contaminating workers at the surface. Already, both WCS and Holtec/ELEA have made clear that constructing, operating, and decommissioning their CISFs would require the transfer of all costs, risks, and liabilities onto the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) – that is, federal taxpayers, something prohibited by federal law, as pointed out by CISF proposal opponents like Beyond Nuclear.