Environmental Impacts

The entire nuclear fuel chain involves the release of radioactivity that contaminates the environment. Radiation can affect the air, water, soil, plants, animals, places of residence and recreation and elsewhere.



Washington Congressional Delegation Urges President-Elect Trump to Prioritize Hanford Cleanup, Worker Health, Tri-Cities’ Safety

“This work is essential to protecting the health and safety of the Tri-Cities community, the Columbia River, Washington state and our nation.”

As posted on the website of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Democratic News section. U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) is the Ranking Member (Minority/Democrat) on the Committee.

Hanford is the worst radioactively contaminated site in the Western Hemisphere. It got that way, due to military reprocessing, to extract plutonium from high-level radioactive waste, for use in the American nuclear weapons arsenal.


Lawsuit Launched Against Radioactive Phosphate Mining in Florida

Update provided by Center for Biological Diversity:

Florida is saddled with 1 billion tons of radioactive phosphogypsum -- the result of turning phosphate mined in Florida into fertilizer -- as well as scars and pollution from thousands of acres of phosphate mining.

So just before the holidays, the Center and allies tackled the problem, notifying two federal agencies we'll sue over their approval of more than 50,000 additional acres of mining in central Florida unless they take steps to improve the situation. The new mining would destroy habitat for eastern indigo snakes and Florida panthers, hurt water quality and damage the landscape.

"Phosphate mining violently disfigures the environment, destroying habitat and displacing wildlife," said Jaclyn Lopez, our Florida director.

Read more in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and check out our new phosphate mining webpage.


Environmental coalition defends its legal appeal, seeks to block Fermi 3 proposed new reactor in Michigan

Terry Lodge, legal counsel for the environmental coalition resisting Fermi 3

An environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, is entering its 10th year of resistance (2008-2017) against Detroit Edison's proposed new Fermi Unit 3 reactor in southeast Michigan on the Great Lakes shoreline.

On Dec. 23rd, Toledo-based attorney Terry Lodge filed a Reply Brief, in defense of a legal appeal originally filed in October, at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the second highest court in the land, just below the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Reply rebuts challenges to the appeal brought by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Detroit Edison (DTE).

The appeal challenges NRC's exclusion of the transmission line corridor from the Environmental Impact Statement, a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The appeal also challenges DTE's violations of NRC's quality assurance (QA) regulations (Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, Inc. serves as the coalition's QA expert).



Yet another oil spill at Indian Point, into the Hudson River

Riverkeeper map showing risks to the Hudson River, New York City, and beyond, from Indian Point.As reported by Nuclear Street, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered two state agencies to investigate the latest oil spill at Entergy's Indian Point nuclear power plant, located on the banks of the Hudson River, not far upstream from New York City.

The article reports:

Since 2011, there have been over 40 spills and unexpected shutdown events at the Indian Point Nuclear Reactor, which as been criticized repeatedly by Gov. Cuomo, who has said the plant, run by Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc. and just 24 miles north of New York City, is too close to a major population center to allow for a reasonable evacuation process in the event of a significant emergency.


Entergy FitzPatrick causes oil spill into Great Lakes

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary aerial photo of oil sheen on Lake Ontario caused by Entergy Nuclear's FitzPatrick atomic reactor, visible in backgroundNuclear power is not "emissions-free," as its proponents so often claim. In fact, sometimes it causes oil spills into fresh drinking water supplies...

As reported by the Democrat & Chronicle, Entergy Nuclear's FitzPatrick atomic reactor on the Lake Ontario shoreline in upstate New York just released up to 30 gallons of oil into that drinking water supply, utilized by many millions of people downstream in two countries.

The oil spill was not detected nor announced at first by Entergy, or the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), but rather by a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary air crew, who spotted the visible sheen on Lake Ontario's surface waters (see photo, above/left).

As reported by the article:

A boat crew from Coast Guard Station Oswego launched to take samples of the sheen and enforce a safety zone extending two miles to the north and two miles to the east and west.

That amounts to a 6 square mile surface area of Lake Ontario.

Entergy has a bad record of oil spills into New York's surface waters. In May 2015, its Indian Point nuclear power plant just upstream from New York City on the Hudson River, spilled oil into the surface waters. That spill, of thousands of gallons of oil -- and the turbine fire that led to it -- prompted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to rush to the scene to hold an emergency press conference.

(The Palisades atomic reactor in Michigan also spilled around 70 gallons of oil on the edge of the Great Lakes, this time Lake Michigan, a year earlier, in May 2014. However, Entergy claimed no oil made it into the Lake.)

(In early 2015, reports emerged of a two-month long leak of some 2,000 gallons of oil from the American Electric Power Donald C. Cook nuclear power plant, into Lake Michigan, some 30 miles south of Palisades, in Bridgman, MI.)

Lake Michigan is also the source of drinking water for some tens of millions of people downstream.

Of course, atomic reactors "emit" more than just oil spills into surface waters. They "routinely" discharge radioactivity into the air and surface waters, by design, which can then cause harm to human health and the environment downwind and downstream. (See the photo in the linked pamphlet, showing Entergy Palisades' liquid radioactive waste discharge pathway into Lake Michigan; the photo was taken by Gabriela Bulišová.)

Atomic reactors also have frequent unintended (or "accidental") spills and leaks of radioactivity into the environment. Beyond Nuclear published a major report about this in April 2010.

An example of this in New York is Entergy Indian Point's leakage of radioactivity (tritium, strontium, etc.) from high-level radioactive waste storage pools, which ultimately flows into the Hudson River, which has been underway for more than a decade.

Another example is Entergy Palisades' spill of 82 gallons of radioactive water into Lake Michigan in May 2013.