"N.R.C. Nomination Shines Spotlight on Waste-Disposal Issue

Dr. Allison Macfarlane (pictured left), nominated by President Obama to chair the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), faces her U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee confirmation hearing tomorrow morning. The New York Times reports that her questioning will likely focus on "waste, waste, and earthquakes." More.


"What is the United States government waiting for?"

Although Japanese environment and nuclear power policy minister Goshi Hosono did a brief photo op at the Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 pool on May 26th, questions remain on its structural integrity, as Tokyo Electric Power Co. is the sole source of information. Hosono claims the pool could survive a Magnitude 6.0 earthquake, but frighteningly, a 7.0 is predicted as 90% likely in the next three years.Japanese diplomat Akio Matsumura, more than anyone, has raised the alarm about the structural integrity of the Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 high-level radioactive waste storage pool. Matsumura has published a new essay explaining the Japanese government's inaction, and calling for international action. Matsumura argues that the U.S., in order to protect its own interests, must urge the Japanese government to allow in an independent assessment team to determine the status of the Unit 4 pool, and the best path forward on removing its irradiated nuclear fuel, before another big earthquake strikes.

Geologists predict a 90% chance of a Magnitude 7.0 quake hitting the Fukushima area in the next three years. Unit 4's collapse could result in its high-level radioactive waste catching fire, unleashing a global catastrophe. Unit 4's high-level radioactive waste pool contains 8 to 10 times the Cs-137 released by Chernobyl, but its release would put in jeopardy all seven high-level radioactive waste storage pools at Fukushima Daiichi, containing 85 times, or more, Chernobyl's Cs-137. Such a worst-case scenario would certainly result in significant radioactive fallout on the North American mainland, not to mention further contamination of the Pacific Ocean, and radioactivity bio-concentration in the food chain. 

Please contact the White House, and urge President Obama to offer cooperative assistance to the Japanese government, in order to independently assess the Unit 4 pool, and determine how best to quickly remove the irradiated nuclear fuel before the reactor building collapses.


A powerful, moving plea, from the women of Fukushima

On June 7, 2012, about 70 women, including 10 women from Fukushima, did a "die-in" in front of Prime Minister Noda's official residence to protest against the start of the Ohi nuclear power plant. Before the die-in, 10 Fukushima women visited the Cabinet office and met with officials to submit a letter of request addressed to Prime Minister Noda. The next day, Noda announced he would re-start Ohi. This video shows the testimony of the women - one by one - in powerful, moving orations that should not fail to move anyone thinking rationally. At the end there is footage of the die-in. Unfortunately, Noda failed to heed their pleas. Watch our bulletin, website and Facebook pages for actions to protest the irresponsible criminality of restarting reactors in Japan.


9 States, NCSL, and Vermont NGOs join VT AG's appeal of Entergy Vermont Yankee atomic reactor ruling 

Vermont Attorney General William SorrellThe Attorney General of the State of Vermont, William Sorrell (pictured left), fresh off his victory against the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's "Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision" at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, has filed his brief in New York City appealing a Brattleboro, VT federal district judge's ruling in January which enabled the Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee atomic reactor to continue operating, in contravention of State of Vermont laws. AG Sorrell's brief was supported by "friend of the court" briefs from nine states (Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, and Utah), as well as the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. Also filing "friend of the court" briefs in support of VT AG Sorrell were VT NGOs Conservation Law Foundation, the Vermont Natural Resources Council, the New England Coalition, and the Vermont Public Interest Research Group.


Major court victory against NRC's Nuclear Waste "Con Game"!

Today, a coalition of several states, environmental groups, and a Native American nation have scored a major federal court victory against the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) "Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision," more accurately described as a "con game" (a "confidence game" is defined as "any swindle in which the swindler, after gaining the confidence of the victim, robs the victim by cheating at gambling, appropriating funds entrusted for investment, or the like.") NRC has used its "Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision" for decades, to block states, Native American nations, and environmental groups from challenging NRC licenses for new reactors, or license extensions for old reactors, which inevitably lead to the generation of massive amounts of deadly high-level radioactive waste, for which there is no solution.

The Offices of Attorneys General for the States of Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont, the Prairie Island Indian Community of Minnesota (on irradiated nuclear fuel storage issues), and an environmental coalition (on irradiated nuclear fuel disposal issues) represented by Natural Resource Defense Council's (NRDC) nuclear attorney Geoff Fettus and D.C.-based attorney Diane Curran, backed by expert witness Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President of Institutue for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), have thus successfully challenged NRC's assertion that high-level radioactive wastes can be safely, securely, and soundly stored at reactor sites for 120 years (60 years of licensed operations, and 60 years post-operations). NRC has since undertaken a study about storing high-level radioactive waste at reactor sites for 200-300 years. Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL), NRDC, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), and Riverkeeper comprised the coalition of environmental plaintiffs.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Chief Judge Sentelle (a Republican appointee) wrote the unanimous ruling on behalf of Circuit Judges Griffith (also a Republican appointee) and Tatel (a Democratic appointee), including a summation.

The State of New York Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman, a lead plaintiff, issued a press release, including this statement:

“This is a landmark victory for New Yorkers, and people across the country living in the shadows of nuclear power plants. We fought back against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's rubber stamp decision to allow radioactive waste at our nation’s nuclear power plants to be stored for decades after they’re shut down - and we won. The Court was clear in agreeing with my office that this type of NRC 'business as usual' is simply unacceptable. The NRC cannot turn its back on federal law and ignore its obligation to thoroughly review the environmental, public health, and safety risks related to the creation of long-term nuclear waste storage sites within our communities. Whether you're for or against re-licensing Indian Point and our nation’s aging nuclear power plants, the security of our residents who live in the areas that surround these facilities is paramount. I am committed to continuing to use the full force of my office to push the NRC to fully evaluate -- and ensure -- the safety of Indian Point and our other nuclear plants.”

Co-plaintiff William Sorrell, Attorney General of the State of Vermont, issued a press release, stating: “This outcome illustrates how important it is for states to work together on environmental matters of national importance. Today’s decision is a major victory for New York, Vermont, and all other states that host nuclear power plants. The court confirmed what Vermont and other states have said for many years now—that the NRC has a duty to inform the public about the environmental effects of long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel, particularly when it is occurring at nuclear power plants that were never designed to be long-term storage facilities."

Co-plaintiff George Jepsen, Attorney General of the State of Connecticut, issued a press release, stating:

"This is a critical decision for Connecticut and other states with nuclear power plants. It means the federal regulators must make a full and comprehensive analysis of the potential environmental impact before allowing additional decades of storage of high-level nuclear waste at reactor sites."