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Thursday
Feb112010

Evacuationplans.org provides valuable overview of Vermont Yankee issues

Lawrence Auclair has provided a very valuable website, www.evacuationplans.org, which gives a wide ranging overview of issues at the controversial Vermont Yankee atomic reactor, site of on-going radioactive tritium leaks of yet-unknown origin, increasing decommissioning costs, and false testimony by Entergy Nuclear officials under oath to State of Vermont officials denying the existence of underground piping carrying radioactive materials.

Wednesday
Feb102010

Hanford "clean up" will take at least 37 more years, cost as much as $100 billion, and still leave behind radioactive risks lasting thousands of years

An article in the Oregonian, written as the U.S. Department of Energy holds public hearings on its draft environmental impact statement for "cleaning up" high-level radioactive waste storage tanks and managing additional radioactive wastes and lingering radioactive contamination at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, reports that nearly a half century more ("clean up" has already been underway for decades), and a price tag that could top $100 billion, will be needed before the site's "clean up" is "finished." Even then, hazardous radioactive contamination will persist for many thousands of years, threatening the adjacent Columbia River and points downstream. The high-level radioactive wastes, and much of Hanford's contamination, have resulted from military reprocessing from 1943 to 1988. Commercial reprocessing of irradiated nuclear fuel, proposed as the latest "illusion of a solution" to nuclear power's waste problem, would involve vastly more waste than was ever reprocessed at Hanford, waste that is significantly more radioactive than military irradiated nuclear fuel. Thus, commercial reprocessing would likely cause radioactive ruination of the environment wherever it is carried out, with serious health consequences downwind and downstream for millenia.

Saturday
Feb062010

Environmental coalition opposes Magwood appointment to NRC

Soon after media reports last summer hinted that former DOE Office of Nuclear Energy director William Magwood IV was under consideration by President Obama for a seat on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), on August 3, 2009 a coalition of nearly 100 environmental groups (8 national organizations and 89 grassroots groups representing 32 states) signed a letter spearheaded by Beyond Nuclear that was sent to President Obama. The coalition's letter urged President Obama to nominate strong health, security, safety, and environmental regulators to the NRC, not industry promoters. Unfortunately, on Oct. 9, 2009 President Obama went ahead with his nomination of Mr. Magwood, who had only continued his nuclear power promotional activities after retiring from DOE in 2005, as pointed out in an Oct. 14, 2009 letter from Project on Government Oversight to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. In addition to his leadership of efforts to expand atomic energy both here and around the world, Mr. Magwood supports the Yucca Mountain dumpsite, in direct contradiction to President Obama's wise policy to cancel it. Mr. Magwood also promotes commercial radioactive waste reprocessing, a radical and entirely inappropriate position for an NRC Commissioner, given its risks of nuclear weapons proliferation, environmental and health ruination, as well as astronomical costs to taxpayers and ratepayers. As with reactors, Magwood as an NRC commissioner could well be involved in formulating safety, security, health, and environmental regulations for reprocessing, and perhaps someday could decide upon a reprocessing facility license. In addition, Beyond Nuclear received an anonymous tip that Mr. Magwood had regularly met with a top leader of the Nuclear Energy Institute for secretive, private breakfast meetings to coordinate strategy and priorities for the promotion of atomic energy, outside of the scrutiny of the public and environmental groups. Beyond Nuclear's request to DOE under the Freedom of Information Act resulted only in DOE responding that any such documentation would have been destroyed shortly after Mr. Magwood left the agency in 2005. The U.S. Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Mr. Magwood's NRC nomination today, Tuesday, Feb. 9th. Check the U.S. Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee membership, and if your Senator serves on it, contact them via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121) on Monday to urge that they ask him tough questions concerning his lack of independence from the industry he is seeking to regulate, and to oppose his confirmation as an NRC Commissioner based on his long record of nuclear power's promotion. Beyond Nuclear issued a press statement calling on the Senate EPW Committee to reject William Magwood's appointment to the NRC Commission.

Tuesday
Feb022010

Obama administration makes major moves to end Yucca Mountain dumpsite proposal!

Fulfilling a campaign pledge, President Barack Obama has zeroed out the Yucca Mountain Project's funding in Fiscal Year 2011. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has moved to end the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission construction and operating license application proceeding within the next month. Many observers regard these actions as a clear signal that the Yucca Mountain dumpsite proposal, after over 20 years, has now been cancelled. Extensive media coverage can be found at the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Project's "What News" page. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as a rookie Democrat from Nevada, suffered the humiliation of the "Screw Nevada Bill" in 1987 that singled out Yucca Mountain for the country's high-level radioactive waste dump based on raw political expedience, not sound science. Ever since, he has devoted his career to stopping the dump. He seems to have succeeded. Reid has called for the Yucca site to be considered for other uses. But the Western Shoshone Indian Nation, to whom Yucca belongs according to the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley signed by the U.S. government, must be consulted and agree with any such decisions, an environmental justice never granted them in regards to Yucca Mountain dumpsite decision making (the frame for a Western Shoshone sweat lodge at the foot of the western face of Yucca Mountain, photographed by Gabriela Bulisova in Jan. 2004, shows that the site has still recently been used for sacred ceremonies). Beyond Nuclear would like to take this opportunity to thank the over 1,000 grassroots and national environmental groups whose work over the past 20+ years has made this environmental and environmental justice victory possible. Special thanks and congratulations go to the grassroots Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force, the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, as well as such Western Shoshone Indian bodies as the National Council, Defense Project, Shundahai Network, and bands such as the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe in Death Valley, without whose tireless, and often thankless, efforts for over two decades, this fight would have been lost long ago. Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Watchdog, issued a press statement.

Monday
Feb012010

Nonproliferation Policy Education Center warns that nuclear power subsidies risk worldwide proliferation of nuclear weapons 

Henry Sokolski, Executive Director of NPEC, has warned that U.S. Department of Energy taxpayer-backed loan guarantees for new atomic reactors in the U.S. will set a bad international example that could be followed by foreign governments seeking to conceal nuclear weapon programs behind a nuclear power facade. He points out that a large-scale atomic reactor can generate enough plutonium each year for "scores" of nuclear weapons, if it is chemically separated from radioactive waste. In addition, the enrichment of uranium for nuclear fuel fabrication can be readily diverted for the manufacture of bomb-grade high enriched uranium (HEU).