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"Low-Level" Radioactive Waste

"Low-Level" waste is a convenient classification and a notorious misnomer as many so-called "low-level" radioactive wastes are extremely long-lived and highly dangerous to health.

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Monday
Dec302013

"Smoldering controversy" at Saint Louis area radioactive waste landfill flares up

Beyond Nuclear board member Kay Drey, long-time anti-nuclear watchdog, including on the West Lake Landfill's radioactive wastesThe Wall Street Journal has reported ("Neighbors Fume at Radioactive Dump: Legacy of Atomic-Era Weapons Work in St. Louis Suburb Stirs Worries About Health, Environment," by John R. Emshwiller, Dec. 29, 2013) on the West Lake Landfill near St. Louis, MO. (In a companion piece, the WSJ reports "Facebook Page Chronicles Accounts of Illnesses Reported by Residents"). The dumpsite contains one of the single largest concentrations of hazardous, radioactive Thorium-230 residues in the entire country, as recently documented by Bob Alvarez, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Although the radioactive wastes in the West Lake Landfill originated from the nuclear weapons industry, the crisis holds lessons for nuclear power "uranium fuel chain," so-called "low-level" radioactive waste risks, as well.

The West Lake Landfill is an illegal dumping ground for the oldest radioactive wastes of the Atomic Age. The radioactive wastes originated from the Manhattan Project race for the atomic bomb, which culminated in the annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in 1945. Mallinckrodt Chemical Works of St. Louis processed Belgian Congo uranium ore, with the radioactive wastes eventually dumped at West Lake Landfill.

The West Lake Landfill is located in the Missouri River floodplain, not far upstream from the confluence with the Mississippi River, as well as St. Louis metro region drinking water intakes. It is also immediately adjacent to an underground landfill fire. The Wall Street Journal coverage is the latest installment of major, national media coverage on the crisis.

Recently, Beyond Nuclear board member Kay Drey (photo, above left), a resident of the St. Louis area and a 40-year anti-nuclear watchdog, wrote to state and local elected officials in the area around West Lake Landfill, as well as fire department officials. She called for action to be taken to protect workers at the West Lake Landfill, as well as firefighters who could face the radioactive hazards if the underground fire intercepts the buried radioactive wastes.

Along the same lines, Kay previously penned a pamphlet, "Your Nuclear Workplace: Know Your Risks, Know Your Rights."

Monday
Dec162013

Port Clinton, OH passes resolution against Canadian Great Lakes radioactive waste dump; bipartisan congressional opposition grows

On Dec. 10, the City of Port Clinton, Ohio passed a resolution opposing OPG's proposed radioactive waste dump targeted at the Great Lakes shoreline. What is very significant about this is that Port Clinton is located within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) of FirstEnergy Nuclear's Davis-Besse atomic reactor, on the Lake Erie shore just east of Toledo. Even "nuclear company towns" like Port Clinton -- which "host" many hundreds of tons of high-level radioactive waste, in "temporary storage" -- are opposed to any proposal to permanently bury radioactive waste on the Great Lakes shore.

In this regard, Port Clinton's resolution is similar to the Town of Ajax's, to the east of Toronto, located immediately adjacent to the 8-reactor Pickering nuclear power plant on the Lake Ontario shore.

Port Clinton's population is just over 6,000, so the number of people represented by resolutions passed at the state, county, town, and village levels in both countries is still around 17.8 million. This, compared to the Town of Kincardine which supposedly has "volunteered" to "host" the dump in Ontario, with a population of only around 11,000, including many Bruce Nuclear Power Plant workers, and other influenced by Bruce Nuclear revenue streams. But in fact, local opposition in and around Kincardine has grown stronger over time.

Tom Henry of the Toledo Blade has published a comprehensive article, "Ohio, Mich. riled over plan to bury radioactive waste: Critics fear dump may contaminate lakes," reporting on Port Clinton's resolution. He reported that a concerned resident of Port Clinton, Victoria Clemons, was instrumental in advocating for passage of the resolution.

Henry also reports that U.S. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and U.S. Congresswoman Candice Miller (R-MI) are working on a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him to negotiate with his Canadian counterparts to end this proposal. Kaptur, the Ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water, also indicated she will also take her concerns to the Canadian ambassador. Miller is Chairwoman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, and also sits on the Transportation Subcommittees on Hazardous Materials, as well as Water Resources and the Environment.

Kaptur and Miller thus join Michigan's two U.S. Senators, as well as several additional U.S. House Members, in opposing the Great Lakes radioactive waste dump.

In addition, Henry reports that Ohio State Legislators, Rep. Chris Redfern (D-Catawba Island) and Rep. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green), intend to introduce a resolution in the Ohio General Assembly early next year opposing the proposed dump.

This is similar to a State of Michigan Senate resolution, introduced by Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (Democrat-Taylor) and passed unanimously in spring 2013.

Meanwhile, the Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump petition now has 43,864 signatories.

Saturday
Nov232013

Nov. 25th Forum on the Decommissioning of Vermont Yankee in Montpelier

A message from Debra Stoleroff of Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance (VYDA):

After more than 40 years, our efforts have paid off and the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is closing in 2014 and will be decommissioned.  There are many ways to decommission a nuclear power plant; some more safe than others.

So, what does deliberate, thorough and responsible decommissioning mean?  What does it look like? And how can Vermont (and we) advocate for deliberate, thorough and responsible decommissioning with a greenfield when Vermont does not have a legal say in the process?

Deb Katz of the Citizens' Awareness Network (CAN) and Chris Williams of VCAN and VYDA will address what will happen to Vermont Yankee when it closes in 2014.  They will discuss transition, clean-up, long term waste storage and what role citizens can play In the process.

Join VYDA for a forum on The Decommissioning of Vermont Yankeewith Deb Katz, Executive Director of Citizens' Awareness Network  and Chris Williams, Director of VT Citizen's Action Network and member of VYDA

Monday, November 25,6:30 pm, at the Unitarian Church, 130 Main St., Montpelier
Sponsored by the Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance

For more information call: (802) 476-3154

More.

Saturday
Nov232013

West Lake Landfill: A Radioactive Legacy of the Nuclear Arms Race

Robert Alvarez, Senior Scholar, Institute for Policy StudiesRobert Alvarez (photo, left), Senior Scholar at Institute for Policy Studies, has prepared a report entitled "The West Lake Landfill: A Radioactive Legacy of the Nuclear Arms Race."

In 1973, the West Lake Landfill, in the Missouri River floodplain, and just upstream from a drinking water supply intake for St. Louis, became the illegal dumping ground for part of the Belgian Congo uranium wastes, leftover from the Manhattan Project, the race to build the first atomic bombs, tested in New Mexico, and dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945. These wastes are loaded with Thorium-230, an alpha-particle emitting radioactive substance regarded as comparable, in radiological hazard, to Plutonium-239.

On Nov. 21st, Alvarez, along with Dr. Robert Criss of Washington University and Peter Anderson (Executive Director, Center for a Competitive Waste Industry), keynoted a presentation, sponsored by Missouri Coalition for the Environment, about an underground garbage dump fire now threatening the radioactive waste buried at West Lake Landfill. (See the event announcement and action alert). St. Louis Public Radio, KSDK, KMOV, KMOX, and the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported on the event. A video recording of the Westlake Landfill community meeting has also been provided by Missouri Coalition for the Environment.

Criss prepared a report earlier this year entitled "Risk and Character of Radioactive Waste at the West Lake Landfill, Bridgeton, Missouri."

Kay Drey, a Beyond Nuclear board member, has long watchdogged the high-risk situation at the West Lake Landfill, along with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment.

Rolling Stone reported on the West Lake Landfill fire earlier this year, in an article entitled "St. Louis Is Burning." The article quoted Drey, Criss, Anderson, Ed Smith of Missouri Coalition for the Environment, as well as local residents.

Tuesday
Oct012013

State of MI legislators speak out against Great Lakes radioactive waste dump in Ontario

As reported by CTV, Michigan State Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood and Representative Sarah Roberts spoke out today in Kincardine, Ontario against Ontario Power Generation's proposal to bury radioactive wastes along the Lake Huron shore.

Hopgood's resolution against the DGR (for Deep Geologic Repository, or DUD, for Deep Underground Dump) passed the Michigan State Senate unanimously. Roberts has introduced a companion resolution in the MI State House of Representatives.

Hopgood and Roberts testified today before Canada's federal Joint Review Panel hearing concerns about the DUD. The legislators issued a press advisory, as well as an endorsement of a call by 28 U.S. and Canadian environmental groups (including Beyond Nuclear) "Request for Ruling," that the JRP require OPG to come clean on whether or not it intends to double the capacity of the proposed DUD from 200,000 cubic meters of so-called "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive waste from operations and refurbishment at 20 Ontario reactors, by adding another 200,000 tons of L&ILRWs from decommissioning activities over time.

Sen. Hopgood and Rep. Roberts also submitted written testimony. Attached to Sen. Hopgood's written testimony are statements of opposition to the Great Lakes radioactive waste dump provided by: Michigan United Conservation Clubs (with 42,000 members); Michigan Boating Industries Association (comprised of 300 marine businesses); Michigan Charter Boat Association; Michigan Steelhead & Salmon Fishermen's Association (the largest sport fishing organization in the Great Lakes Basin); Michigan Environmental Council (a coalition of more than 70 organizations); and Michigan Clean Water Action (boasting 200,000 members).