Radioactive Waste

No safe, permanent solution has yet been found anywhere in the world - and may never be found - for the nuclear waste problem. In the U.S., the only identified and flawed high-level radioactive waste deep repository site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada has been canceled. Beyond Nuclear advocates for an end to the production of nuclear waste and for securing the existing reactor waste in hardened on-site storage.



Great Lakes Nuke Dump Decision Postponed; Critics Call for Dump's Cancellation

OPG's DUD would be built on a peninsula surrounded on three sides by water, just 3/4ths of a mile from the shoreline of the Great Lakes.The newly appointed Canadian Environment Minister, the Honorable Catherine McKenna, has postponed the deadline for deciding whether or not to approve Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) proposal to bury radioactive wastes on the Great Lakes shore at Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Kincardine, Ontario. The deadline had been next Wednesday, December 2, 2015; she has postponed the decision until March 1, 2016.

Beyond Nuclear has issued a press release (see the Word version for live links to relevant documents). In it, Beyond Nuclear thanks a bipartisan U.S. congressional delegation of 32 Senators and Representatives for writing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and urging him to cancel the Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) outright, or at the very least, postpone the decision until they can meet with him in person to communicate the concerns and objections of tens of millions of U.S. citizens in eight Great Lakes states. Beyond Nuclear has expressed confidence that Minister McKenna's review of the 13 years of growing resistance to the DUD (short for Deep Underground Dump) will convince her to reject OPG’s proposal as unacceptably risky to the drinking water supply for 40 million people. See Beyond Nuclear's Canada website section for more information.


State of Nevada refuses to be "screwed" by half-baked attempt to revive cancelled Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump

Native Community Action Council bumper stickerRobert J. Halstead, the Executive Director of the State of Nevada's Agency for Nuclear Projects, serving under the Office of the Governor, Brian Sandoval, has submitted comments to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on the agency's Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) on Yucca Mountain. The comments comprise powerful pushback against the half-baked attempt to revive the cancelled Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump. The chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has called the entire NRC SDEIS proceeding "a useless act," a multi-million dollar waste of time, energy, and taxpayer resources, not to mention public involvement.

Thus, the State of Nevada continues its tradition of resistance to the high-level radioactive waste dump that began with the "Screw Nevada bill" of 1987, the most common name for the Amendments to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act that singled out Nevada as the only site to be further studied for high-level radioactive waste disposal, despite its scientific unsuitability, known to the U.S. Department of Energy since the early 1980s. The "Screw Nevada bill," orchestrated by more politically powerful states also targeted for the country's first repository (Texas, Washington, and many in the East and Midwest), abandoned a process of scientific integrity and regional equity (90% of the commercial irradiated nuclear fuel in the U.S. is located in the eastern half of the country!), embracing raw politics instead.

As long-time, leading anti-Yucca dump advocate, Dr. Arjun Makhijani of IEER has put it, Yucca is the most unsuitable site for an irradiated nuclear fuel repository ever studied. The only way the dump project was repeatedly kept on life support for decades on end was by way of "double-standard standards," Dr. Makhijani has pointed out. That is, if Yucca could not meet the standards, they were either weakened or done away with.

Nevada's comments included appendices prepared by the Native Community Action Council, and Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, whose members live downstream of Yucca Mountain, and would drink the massive releases of hazardous radioactivity that would occur into the groundwater, if the dump is ever opened.


Resisting environmental racism at Yucca Mountain, Nevada

Corbin Harney (standing), Western Shoshone spiritual leader, and Raymond Yowell, then Western Shoshone Indian Nation chief, at Peace Camp, NV, Oct. 2002, leading protests against nuclear weapons testing, militarism, and radioactive waste dumping at the Nevada Test Site. Photo by Gabriela Bulisova.November 20th marked the end of a rushed, "going-through-the motions" Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), a thinly veiled attempt to revive the cancelled Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste dump in Nevada.

NRC didn't even bother to provide advance notice to the affected Indian tribes downstream from the targeted site, let alone consult with them in a government-to-government manner, as is the agency's legal obligation. But at least NRC is consistent: it didn't provide any funding to the tribes, either, placing an extraordinary burden on the tribal nations to meet the arbitrarily-short deadline. In this regard, NRC's SDEIS public comment proceeding itself was a violation of environmental justice (EJ), not to mention the agency's biased push to bury 70,000 metric tons, or more, of high-level radioactive waste on indigenous land, guaranteed to leak into the precious, even sacred, drinking water supply.

Despite NRC's own EJ violations, the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe and the Native Community Action Council met the deadline, with powerful comments. They thereby continued a tradition of protecting Yucca Mountain, and its groundwater, that dates back not just years or decades, but centuries and millenia, to time immemorial. More.


Where is America’s cyberdefense plan?

The Empire State Building towers over the skyline of a blackout-darkened New York City just before dawn. (George Widman/Associated Press)That is the online title of an op-ed by Ted Koppel appearing in the Washington Post (the hardcopy headline reads "Before the cyber-blackout"). Koppel, best known for hosting the ABC news program “Nightline” from 1980 to 2005, is the author of the new book, Lights Out: A Cyberattack, a Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath.

The op-ed raises the specter of a power outage lasting not hours, or days, but weeks, or months, due to a coordinated cyber-attack on the vulnerable U.S. electricity grid.

But the op-ed does not address what this would mean at the 100 still operating atomic reactors across the country, and even at the numerous atomic reactors permanently shutdown.

Even if operating atomic reactors were able to power down and shutdown safely during a power outage, their thermally hot cores would still have to be cooled for several days, or longer, before cold shutdown was reached, or else risk melting down.

Although high-level radioactive waste storage pools would have a longer fuse -- days or even weeks before boiling would expose irradiated nuclear fuel to air, and risk a catastrophic fire -- the pools are not even required to be connected to emergency diesel generators, as reactors are. More.


St. Louis moms up in arms over nuclear waste fears

Moms and their children carry a child-sized casket filled with petitions for Gov. Nixon demanding that a state of emergency is declared. As reported by CBS Evening News, concern among residents in neighborhoods of North St. Louis County around the old radioactive waste dump adjacent to a smoldering landfill fire is deepening:

Ed Smith is an environmentalist who's been studying the site. "The folks around the St. Louis metro area need to be paying attention. We're talking about the possibility, if there's a surface fire, for radioactivity leaving the site."