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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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Wednesday
Aug212013

OPG radioactive waste dump a "declaration of war against the Great Lakes"

As reported in last week's Beyond Nuclear email bulletin, resistance is mounting on both sides of the Great Lakes international border to Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) plan to bury radioactive wastes on the Lake Huron shoreline.

On Aug. 19, Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Kevin Kamps, was honored to be invited to speak at the ‘Save the Great Lakes from Nuclear Waste’ town hall meeting at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit. Michigan State Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood, D-Taylor, and State Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores, organized the event. In May, Hopgood introduced a resolution, which passed the Michigan State Senate unanimously, urging the U.S. House and Senate to oppose the plan. Roberts is poised to introduce a similar resolution once the Michigan State House legislative session resumes.

Hopgood and Roberts, along with a panel of experts, which included Ed McArdle of the Sierra Club's South East Michigan Group, as well as Beverly Fernandez of the Ontario-based group Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump, provided information about OPG's proposed deep geological repository at the Bruce Nuclear Power Plant on the Lake Huron shoreline, and the impact it could have on Michigan’s water, economy, fishing, tourism, health and future.

Those opposed to the DUD plan are urged to sign Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump's online petition.

As reported by the Detroit Free Press:

'Opponents of a proposal to build an underground nuclear waste dump less than a mile from the shores of Lake Huron railed tonight in Detroit against a project they called a declaration of war against the Great Lakes...

Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste specialist for Takoma Park, Md.-based Beyond Nuclear, said the project would be unprecedented because nuclear waste has not been stored underground in the Great Lakes region and could be dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years.

“This proposal is insane. It’s a declaration of war against the Great Lakes,” Kamps said...'.

The Macomb Daily Tribune also reported on this story.

On August 12th, the Macomb Daily Tribune ran another comprehensive article about the proposed Canadian radioactive waste dump, and opposition to it downstream in eastern Michigan.

Ontario's Lucknow Sentinel also reported on the town hall meeting.

Monday
Jul292013

Mayor, environmentalists declare victory of people power over nuclear power

Sarnia Mayor Mike BradleyAs reported by the Sarnia Observer, the Mayor of Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, Mike Bradley (photo, left), has declared victory in a years-long campaign to block the shipment of radioactive steam generators, by boat on the Great Lakes, from Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Kincardine, Ontario, across the Pacific, to Sweden. 

“It's a real testament to citizen power,” said Bradley, who has been a vocal critic of the move, along with a growing list of Ontario mayors, coalition groups, environmental activists, and U.S. Senators. “We're fighting a very large and powerful organization.”

First Nations, including the Mohawks, as well as hundreds of municipalities in Quebec representing millions of citizens along the targeted shipment route, made the difference for the resistance.

Kay Cumbow, the nuclear power watchdog in Michigan who first discovered the risky shipping scheme through her research, then warned and activated others, has said "Thanks to everyone who wrote letters, signed petitions and helped get the word out about the dangers of this scheme that would have put the Great Lakes at risk, endangered workers as well as communities enroute, and would have put radioactive materials into the global recycled metal supply."

Maude Barlow, national chairwoman of the Council of Canadians, was quoted by the Ottawa Citizen: "This is a huge victory for communities around the Great Lakes...The Great Lakes belong to everyone and communities have a right to say 'no' to any projects that will harm them."

As indicated by Mayor Bradley in a separate Sarnia Observer article, the next big fight against "nuclear madness" brewing at Bruce involves proposals by Ontario Power Generation, the Canadian Nuclear Waste Management Organization, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to bury all of Ontario's so-called "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive wastes -- from 20 atomic reactors across the province -- within a mile of the Lake Huron shoreline. Several communities near Bruce, largely populated by Bruce nuclear workers and in effect company towns, have also volunteered to be considered for a national Canadian high-level radioactive waste dump (for 22 reactors).

Friday
Jul122013

"A little Hope" for stopping the Great Lakes radioactive waste DUD!

Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump billboard, seen by hundreds of thousands of Toronto commuters dailyThe struggle against the Canadian nuclear establishment's proposal(s) to bury so-called "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive wastes from 20 reactors across Ontario, and perhaps even high-level radioactive wastes from 22 reactors across Canada, on the Lake Huron shore at or near the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, can be most daunting. Bruce "hosts" 9 reactors (8 operable reactors, 4 each at Bruce A and Bruce B, plus 1 pilot plant -- Douglas Point -- permanently shutdown), one of the single biggest nuclear power plants in the world. Bruce has also quietly incinerated most or all of Ontario's "low" level radioactive wastes for 40 years, with untold radiological emissions. All this, just 50 miles across Lake Huron from Michigan, and upstream from tens of millions of Americans, Canadians, and First Nations/Native Americans who draw their drinking water from the Great Lakes. In terms of the vast fortunes being made by Bruce Nuclear, as well as the harmful radiological releases occurring and radioactive wastes piling up, Bruce is making a killing, while getting away with murder.

Canadian federal decisionmakers have just closed the opportunity to register to speak out in opposition to the proposed "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive waste DGR (Deep Geologic Repository, or, more aptly, DUD -- Deep Underground Dump), and environmental assessment hearings will be held in September and October. As insane as this proposal is (would YOU bury poison next to your well?!, as the group Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump asks -- see photo, above left), the nuclear utility Ontario Power Generation (OPG), the nuclear utility comprised Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), and the Canadian Nuclear Safety (sic) Commission (CNSC) are racing, full steam ahead, to bury their forever deadly radioactive wastes within a mile of the Lake Huron shoreline.

But an antidote to such "nuclear madness" (à la Helen Caldicott's classic title) is at hand! In a recently published book, Tom Lawson of Port Hope, Ontario has shown that such insanity canbe stopped dead in its tracks. Crazy Caverns: How one small community challenged a technocrat juggernaut...and won! tells the inspiring story of a years-long struggle to prevent Canadian provincial and federal government decision makers from allowing Eldorado/Cameco's dumping of uranium processing wastes on the Lake Ontario shoreline.Tom has generously made the book available for free online -- simply click on the link to enjoy your free copy!

Tom has dedicated his "little book" to his wife Pat, as well as "to all those who accept responsibility as citizens in a free society, who agree that the best government is the one kept constantly on its toes by ordinary citizens with the courage to trust their common sense rather than the reassurances of the 'experts.' The experts do not know better than we know what is good for us."

Together, Tom and Pat Lawson, and their friends, neighbors, and colleagues in their tiny, picturesque, but badly contaminated community, have resisted the "biased bafflegab" of the "Pirates of Port Hope" headquartered in their town (Eldorado/Cameco, "Canada's National Uranium Company," as dubbed by Robert Bothwell's company-financed, dubious historical celebration of the firm, and the company's governmental henchmen). Together, this "small group of thoughtful, committed citizens" (à la Margaret Mead) did change the world for the better, by blocking the burial of "a million tons of radioactive and toxic waste 'out of sight, out of mind' under Port Hope's downtown waterfront."

Their important victory can inspire us now, as we struggle to resist OPG's, NWMO's, and CNSC's insane proposal(s) on the Lake Huron shore (more recently, incredibly, the vague specter of yet another DUD, this time for radioactive decommissioning wastes, has also reared its ugly head). In fact, Pat Lawson has spoken out strongly in recent years against the Bruce DUD(s), traveling in the nearby Georgian Bay, where her family has roots extending back many decades.

What can YOU do, right now, to help stop the Bruce DUDs?! Start by signing the Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump petition, and urge your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, etc. to do the same!

Tuesday
Jul092013

Paducah uranium enrichment facility suffers radioactive contamination incident 4 weeks after permanently shutting down

Paducah (uranium enrichment) Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Photo credit: U.S.E.C./U.S. Department of EnergyDespite being permanently shutdown on June 1st, the Paducah facility experienced a radioactivity contamination accident on June 28th, according to a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) incident report dated July 2nd. The radioactivity contamination accident stemmed from a water leak. Given the mountain of radioactive materials at Paducah, such radioactive contamination risks to the facility, the environment beyond, and the people who live there (some directly across dirt roads from the fence line, in a community already showing signs of significantly elevated cancer incidence and death rates) will continue far into the future, despite the facility's welcome permanent shutdown.

In a very real sense, the entire Paducah complex is a radioactive waste -- and toxic chemical -- site that now needs to be dealt with.

Friday
Jun142013

Radiation Expert Exposes Danger to Ohioans from Fracking Waste

Dr. Marvin Resnikoff of RWMADr. Marvin Resnikoff of Radioactive Waste Management Associates has authored a report, Hydraulic Fracturing Radiological Concerns for Ohio, on behalf of the FreshWater Accountability Project Ohio. FWAPOH also put out a press release, "Radiation Expert Exposes Danger to Ohioans from Fracking Waste," which calls for better public protections from the State of Ohio and the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District [MWCD]. 

Resnikoff points out that much of the highly-radioactive solids such as rocks and soils pulled up during drilling, and contaminated muds and sands are cheaply disposed of in municipal landfills in Ohio, irrespective of actual radioactivity content, for 1/100th of the cost of disposal of comparable low-level radioactive waste from nuclear weapons and nuclear power generation in the nation's three facilities for that purpose. In Ohio, he stated, "It is evident that environmental concerns are trumped by the economics beneficial to the unconventional shale drilling industry." Similarly, Dr. Resnikoff identified evidence that the Patriot water treatment facility in Warren, Ohio, which delivers pretreated water to the Warren public water treatment plant, is likely sending radium-laden water into the Mahoning River watershed. "On a daily basis, Patriot does not test for gamma emitting radionuclides and for radium-226," he observed. 

"Dr. Resnikoff's work illustrates that Ohioans, from common citizens to truck drivers to landfill workers, are daily being exposed to radiation exposure or poisoning because the Governor, General Assembly and even a large conservancy district, the MWCD, are sacrificing public protections to prop up frackers' profitability," asserted Terry Lodge, attorney for SEOSOW. "Under the guise of 'austerity,' the state government is destroying protective regulations for everyone, while creating a business environment where those who threaten public health and the environment pay little to nothing. And even huge corporate welfare breaks aren't saving this dirty, low-productivity con game."

Lodge also serves as the attorney for environmental coalitions, including Beyond Nuclear, opposing the proposed new Fermi 3 atomic reactor in southeast MI, as well as the 20-year license extension, and the proposed steam generator replacement, at Davis-Besse in northwest OH.

Fracking was exempted from such federal laws as the Safe Drinking Water Act by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the same law which automatically subsidized nuclear power to the tune of $13 billion, while additionally leading to the approval of $22.5 billion in nuclear loan guarantees thus far.

On May 22nd, Beyond Nuclear joined with 67 other groups to chastise Environmental Defense Fund for joining into a greenwashing alliance with the fracking industry.