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.



NRC blows off environmental coalition's objections to agency's review of illegal de facto permanent parking lot dump application

Maps showing the national and TX-specific routes for commerical irradiated nuclear fuel railway shipments to WCS.NRC has just shown, yet again, what a rogue agency it is, operating outside of the rule of law, and in collusion with the industry it is supposed to regulate.*

On October 26th, an environmental coalition -- including Beyond Nuclear, Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), Public Citizen, and the SEED Coalition -- represented by its legal counsel, Washington, D.C.-based attorney Diane Curran, wrote a letter to NRC. The letter demanded that the agency cease and desist from undertaking an environmental review of the Waste Control Specialists, LLC (WCS) application to open a "centralized interim storage site" for commercial irradiated nuclear fuel in Andrews County, Texas. The coalition letter made clear that the application violates the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, as Amended, in a number of different ways. (See the coalition's October 27th press release, here. Find background information on the broader context, as well as the media coverage in response to the letter and press release, here.)

On December 8th, NRC wrote back. Remarkably, NRC wrote:

In your letter you assert that the NRC must dismiss the WCS application because the WCS plan of operations does not comport with the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, as amended. This issue is beyond the scope of NRC staff's acceptance review. "In conducting this 'acceptance review,' the Staff does not consider the technical or legal merits of the application; rather, the Staff's preliminary review is simply a screening process--a determination whether the license application contains sufficient information for the NRC to begin its safety review." U.S. Department of Energy (High Level Waste Repository: Pre-Application Matters, CLI-08-20, 67 NRC 272, 274 (2008). If the NRC staff accepts the application, the NRC will issue a notice of opportunity to request a hearing and petition for leave to intervene, consistent with the NRC's rules of practice in 10 CFR Part 2. To the extent that the issues raised in your letter are relevant to the NRC's decision whether to grant a license to WCS, they will be considered as part of the NRC's licensing review, should the NRC staff accept the application for docketing. (emphasis added)

To add insult to injury, NRC sent the letter snail mail, rather than electronically. It did not arrive until eight days later, on December 14th.

It is quite remarkable that NRC considers the legality, or rather the illegality, of an application for a license -- to store 5,000 to 40,000 metric tons of highly radioactive commercial irradiated nuclear fuel for decades (or centuries, or forever) at WCS in Texas -- to be "beyond the scope" of the agency's review!

The scheme would, of course, also launch unprecedented numbers of high-level radioactive waste shipments by truck, train, and/or barge onto the country's roads, rails, and/or waterways. (See maps of projected national and Texas rail transport routes to WCS, above left; see a larger, more legible version here.)

*In 2012, after a year-long independent investigation, the Japanese Parliament concluded that the root cause of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe was collusion between government regulators, the nuclear power industry, and elected officials. Such dangerous collusion exists in spades in the U.S., as well.


Pilgrim’s Progress: Inside the American Nuclear-Waste Crisis

As reported by Gregg Levine and Caroline Preston in The New Yorker.

The article quotes Beyond Nuclear: One option is consolidated interim storage. Under this plan, the spent fuel would be moved from plants in thirty states to a handful of regional, aboveground storage facilities—what Kevin Kamps, a waste specialist at the watchdog Beyond Nuclear, has called “parking-lot dumps.”


Feds sue proposed Vermont Yankee disposal company

As reported by VTDigger.

The U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit to block the merger of Waste Control Specialists, LLC of Andrews County, TX and EnergySolutions of Salt Lake City, UT is certainly relevant to Vermont Yankee decommissioning, as the article reports. WCS is proposed to become a partner in the decommissioning of Vermont Yankee, by acquiring ownership and an NRC-approved license transfer from current owner Entergy Nuclear.

But the merger would also impact the entire realm of radioactive waste management and disposal in the U.S. EnergySolutions' dumpsite in Clive, Tooele County, UT is a national dump for Class A radioactive waste -- the lowest category of so-called "low" level radioactive waste.

WCS's dump in Andrews, TX accepts Class A, Class B, and Class C radioactive wastes from any state in the union.

WCS has also applied to become a centralized interim storage site (a de facto permanent parking lot dump) for up to 40,000 metric tons of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel.


Beyond Nuclear on Radio EcoShock re: Mobile Chernobyls & parking lot dumps

Host Alex Smith of Radio EcoShock interviewed Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Specialist, Kevin Kamps, re: the proposal for so-called "centralized interim storage" of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel at Waste Control Specialists, LLC (WCS) in Andrews County, Texas. Listen to the interview from the 32:00 minute to 52:15 minute mark in the recording.

(Please note this correction: The plutonium-contaminated waste barrel burst at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico occurred on Valentine's Day, 2014, not 2012.)

(Smith interviews U.K. professor Kevin Anderson before that, regarding the danger of counting on yet-to-be-developed technologies for reducing global warming gases in the atmosphere, in current plans to avert climate catastrophe. Smith and Anderson compare and contrast the technological hubris of such optimistic assumptions in the climate realm, with that of the nuclear power industry and its unsolved radioactive waste problem.

Then, in the last segment of the program, Smith discusses Robert Mercer, a billionaire climate denier who donated more campaign contributions towards Donald J. Trump's successful bid for the White House than any other single individual.)


Radioactive waste: Webinar this evening on HLRW "centralized" interim storage & transport risks

On Thurs., Nov. 10 from 8-9:30 PM Eastern, presenters from Beyond Nuclear, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Sustainable Energy & Economic Development Coalition, and Nuclear Information and Resource Service, will lead a Webinar focused on the dangers of so-called "centralized interim storage," as well as the risks of shipping irradiated nuclear fuel by road, rail, and waterway. Beyond Nuclear's presentation will be based on its testimony before a U.S. House hearing a year ago. The Webinar is pre-event preparation for a national grassroots strategy summit on high-level radioactive waste, to be held in Chicago, IL on Dec. 2-4. The summit is intended to analyze this week's presidential and congressional election results, to devise strategies and tactics to block de facto permanent parking lot dumps (such as the one targeted at Waste Control Specialists (WCS) in Andrews County, west Texas), as well as to keep the proposed Yucca Mountain, Nevada dumpsite dead, despite a long-simmering Republican campaign to resurrect it. Both industry-friendly schemes will now intensify on Capitol Hill in January; either one would launch unprecedented numbers of high-risk Mobile Chernobyls through most states (See WCS-bound shipment routes, left; or see larger map, here). Please pre-register for the Webinar to receive instructions on how to view/hear it, and submit your registration form for the Chicago summit ASAP, before all available participant slots are filled!