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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.

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Friday
Mar272015

U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, stalwart opponent of Yucca dump, announces he won't seek re-election

U.S. Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid of NevadaU.S. Senator Harry Reid (Democrat from Nevada) has announced he won't seek re-election, and will retire 22 months from now. Reid, who has long served as either the U.S. Senate Majority or Minority Leader (depending on the number of Democrats serving in the chamber), has devoted his entire Senate career to successful opposition to the high-level radioactive waste dump targeted at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

In 1987, when the "Screw Nevada" bill was enacted into law, Reid was a rookie U.S. Senator. In "Screw Nevada," other targeted, more populous and politically powerful states -- such as Texas and Washington, as well as Northeastern states -- ganged up on Nevada, singling out Yucca Mountain as the sole location in the country to be further studied as a potential irradiated nuclear fuel and HLRW dump. This, despite the fact that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) already knew by then, via preliminary scientific studies, that the site was unsuitable.

But the nuclear lobbyists picked the wrong rookie Senator to mess with. For nearly three decades, Reid has led a bipartisan Nevada consensus that has blocked the dump at every turn. In 2000, he secured 34 Senate votes, enough to sustain President Clinton's veto of a congressional attempt to rush open the dump, despite incomplete scientific studies. In 2002, he secured 39 Senate votes against Yucca, the most ever. Coming off the Senate floor after that vote, Reid -- a former boxer -- spoke with environmental allies, saying "It's like at the bar. Sometimes, you've just got to take it out back."

Even during the pro-dump George W. Bush administration, Reid was able to put the brakes on multi-billion dollar annual Yucca dump budgets. Working closely with President Barack Obama, Reid convinced the new administration in 2009 to completely defund the project, and even move to withdraw DOE's construction and operating license application. This has resulted in the effective cancelation of the Yucca dump, and dismantlement of its personnel and physical infrastructure, in the past several years.

Even with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress pushing hard to revive the Yucca dump, Reid has continued his adamant opposition. Opponents to countless "Mobile Chernobyl" trucks, trains, and barges of HLRW traveling through most states, and to a radioactive waste dump guaranteed to leak massively if ever opened, owe a huge debt of gratitude to Democratic Leader, U.S. Senator Harry Reid.

Monday
Mar022015

Margene Bullcreek, leader of Skull Valley Goshute resistance to radioactive waste dump targeted at her community, has passed on

Margene Bullcreek. Photo by Gabriela Bulisova.It is with heavy hearts that we share the sad news that Margene Bullcreek passed on, on Sunday, March 1st, 2015. An In Memoriam has been issued by her colleague Ian Zabarte of the Native Community Action Council (NCAC), where Margene Bullcreek has long served as President.

As emphasized in a NIRS victory tribute, published in Sept., 2006, when the U.S. Department of the Interior effectively blocked the Private Fuel Storage, LLC high-level radioactive waste parking lot dump targeted at her community in Utah:

"The greatest commendations, of course, go to Margene Bullcreek and her organization Ohngo Gaudadeh Devia Awareness (OGDA), Sammy Blackbear, the Bullcreek and Blackbear families, and other Skull Valley Goshutes who have suffered tremendous sacrifices and painful punishments for many long years, for their tireless opposition to the proposed dump. Through it all, they have persevered and now triumphed. Their victory not only protects their own community and its future generations, but countless millions who live along the routes through dozens of states that were targeted for transporting the atomic wastes to Utah." (emphasis added)

Even before the nuclear utility consortuim PFS, LLC and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) targeted the Skull Valley Goshute Reservation, the U.S. Department of Energy's "Nuclear Waste Negotiator" already had been, for nearly a decade. Margene Bullcreek learned from none other than Grace Thorpe how to defend her community, and did so successfully and tirelessly, for decades on end. (Grace Thorpe, who served as President of NECONA, the National Environmental Coalition of Native Americans, passed on in April 2008. President Obama commended Thorpe's work in 2009 for Women's History Month.)

Learn more about the successful resistance to dozens of parking lot dumps targeted at Native American reservations by reading "Radioactive Racism: The History of Targeting Native American Communities with High-Level Atomic Waste Dumps."

And learn more about the long history of resistance to the dump targeted at Skull Valley Goshutes in particular.

Also see the 2001 NIRS backgrounder, written in the thick of the PFS fight, entitled "Environmental Racism, Tribal Sovereignty and Nuclear Waste: High-Level Atomic Waste Dump Targeted at Skull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation in Utah."

The nuclear establishment in industry and government have not stopped targeting Native American lands and communities for high-level radioactive waste parking lot and even burial dumps. But as Ian Zabarte has written, Margene Bullcreek "will be missed, but we will continue this work in the spirit she envisioned…until the end.”

Wednesday
Feb252015

NRC Commissioners to reveal votes on Nuke Waste Con Game Thursday, Feb. 25

Portrait of the current NRC Commission. Pictured from left to right: Commissioner Jeff Baran, Commissioner Kristine L. Svinicki, Chairman Stephan (sic) Burns and Commissioner William C. Ostendorff. (Please note, Chairman Burns' first named is correctly spelled Stephen. His first name is misspelled in the text, below this portrait, posted on NRC's homepage.)The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Electronic Information Exchange (EIE) Hearing Docket this morning served to following notice to intervening parties against old reactor license extensions, as well as proposed new reactor combined construction and operating license applications:

"NOTICE TO THE PARTIES IN:

Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant, Units 3 and 4, Docket Nos. 52-014-COL & 52-015-COL
Callaway Plant, Unit 1, Docket No. 50-483-LR
Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant, Units 3 and 4, Docket Nos. 52-034-COL & 52-035-COL
Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, Unit 1, Docket No. 50-346-LR
Diablo Canyon Power Plant, Units 1 and 2, Docket Nos. 50-275-LR & 50-323-LR
Fermi Nuclear Power Plant, Unit 3, Docket No. 52-033-COL
Fermi Nuclear Power Plant, Unit 2, Docket No. 50-341-LR

Indian Point Nuclear Generating Units 2 and 3, Docket Nos. 50-247-LR & 50-286-LR
Levy County Nuclear Power Plant, Units 1 and 2, Docket Nos. 52-029-COL & 52-030-COL
North Anna Power Station, Unit 3, Docket No. 52-017-COL
Seabrook Station, Unit 1, Docket No. 50-443-LR
Sequoyah Nuclear Plant, Units 1 and 2, Docket Nos. 50-327-LR & 50-328-LR
South Texas Project, Units 3 and 4, Docket Nos. 52-012-COL & 52-013-COL
South Texas Project, Units 1 and 2, Docket Nos. 50-498-LR & 50-499-LR
Turkey Point, Units 6 and 7, Docket Nos. 52-040-COL & 52-041-COL
Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, Unit 2, Docket No. 50-391-OL
William States Lee III Nuclear Station, Units 1 and 2, Docket Nos. 52-018-COL & 52-019-COL

The Commission has scheduled a tentative Affirmation Session for Thursday, February 26, 2015, 12:55 p.m. EST, that addresses the Petitions to Suspend Reactor Licensing Decisions and Reactor License Renewal Decisions Pending Issuance of "Waste Confidence" Safety Findings, filed on Multiple Dockets.

Note: This session will be publicly webcast.  Please use the link below to view the session.

http://www.nrc.gov/public-involve/public-meetings/webcast-live.html ".

As indicated by the bolded text above, Beyond Nuclear is directly, officially intervening against the 20-year license extensions proposed at Davis-Besse, OH (a Three Mile Island twin design), Fermi 2, MI (a Fukushima Daiichi twin design), and Seabrook, NH. In addition, Beyond Nuclear is an official intervenor against the proposed new reactor at Fermi 3, MI.

Thus, the NRC Commissioners will rule, on Feb. 26th, on a coalition of environmental intervenors' Petition to Suspend Licensing and Re-licensing of Reactors. That Petition was filed on Sept. 29, 2014, by some three dozen organizations, engaged in the 27 pending, individual reactor NRC licensing proceedings listed above.

As explained by Diane Curran and Mindy Goldstein, the attorneys representing the environmental coalition, "the Petition accompanied [the groups'] contentions challenging the NRC's failure to make Atomic Energy Act-required Waste Confidence safety findings in those cases." (Attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo serves as the environmental coalition legal counsel in the Davis-Besse and Fermi 2 & 3 proceedings listed above.)

The Petition, as well as the contentions in the individual proceedings, would form the basis for an appeal to the federal courts regarding NRC's 2014 Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel rule and environmental impact statement.

Although NRC Commissioners Kristine L. Svinicki and William C. Ostendorff voted in favor of the finalization of the Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel rule and environmental impact statement last year, the other two NRC Commissioners -- Chairman Stephen G. Burns, and Commissioner Jeff Baran -- were not yet serving in 2014. (The fifth seat on the NRC Commission currently remains unfilled.) See the photo, above left.

Wednesday
Feb252015

Urge President Obama to oppose burial of TransCanada's radioactive wastes on Great Lakes shore!

Successul resistance to TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands crude oil pipeline must now shift to fend off the dumping of TransCanada's radioactive wastes on the Great Lakes shore!

As reported by the Associated Press, on Feb. 24th, President Obama vetoed Senate Bill 1, which would have rushed the immediate construction of TransCanada Pipelines' Keystone XL tar sands crude oil pipeline. Our friends and colleagues at 350.org called for a rapid response action at the White House, at 5pm, just hours after the veto. As we have many times in the past -- on tar sands, fracking, and other environmental issues -- Beyond Nuclear answered the call, and stood in solidarity with our allies. We have also joined a unity statement with a large number of other groups, calling on President Obama to reject TransCanada's Keystone XL Pipeline once and for all.

Take action against another of TransCanada's dirty, dangerous and expensive scheme: the plan to bury radioactive waste on the Great Lakes shoreline! Urge President Obama to block this insane proposal!

Thursday
Feb192015

Take action on radioactive waste! Contact President Obama, your Members of Congress, and state/county/local officials!

What can you do about the radioactive waste risks facing our continent, and your locality? Contact your elected officials!

The White House

Please contact President Obama. Thank him for canceling the risky and astronomically expensive Yucca Mountain, Nevada high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) dump proposal: he has zeroed out funding for the project since 2009, and even ordered his Department of Energy (DOE) to withdraw the construction and operating license application submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Also urge President Obama to take action against Canada's proposed Great Lakes shoreline radioactive waste dump, as a growing number of resolutions across the Great Lakes region call for.

Finally, urge him to put a halt to the DOE proposal to ship liquid HLRW, by truck, from Chalk River nuclear lab, Ontario, Canada, to Savannah River Site, South Carolina. Liquid HLRW has never been shipped in North American history, and is unacceptably risky. The shipments are also unnecessary to begin with, and are proposed for no good reason whatsoever. The main driving force is SRS's hope to make $60 million on the project, as well as to keep its dirty, dangerous, and expensive reprocessing capabilities on life support -- facilities that should have been retired long ago.

Congress

Please contact your two U.S. Senators, as well as your U.S. Representative, regarding the issues listed above. Your three Members of Congress can be reached, by phone, via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard, (202) 224-3121.

Urge them to block congressional Republican efforts (as by Rep. Upton (R-MI) and Shimkus (R-IL), attempting to revive the canceled Yucca Mountain dump project.

Also urge them to join congressional resolutions, in the Senate and House, opposing the Canadian Great Lakes shore radioactive waste dump. The Great Lakes represent nearly 90% of the surface fresh water in North America, providing drinking water to 40 million people in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations. If this proposed Canadian Great Lakes shore radioactive waste dump is allowed to happen, it sets a very dangerous precedent continent-wide for burying radioactive waste immediately next to major surface waters and drinking water supplies.

Lastly, urge them to oppose risky and unnecessary shipping of liquid HLRW from Ontario to South Carolina. If these dangerous shipments are allowed to roll, they will also set a dangerous precedent for future radioactive waste shipments continent-wide, throwing even basic common sense caution to the wind.

Your State, County, and Local Government

Contact Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Kevin Kamps, for more detailed information on how these various radioactive waste risks affect your locality. You can reach Kevin by phone at (301) 270-2209 ext. 1, or email at kevin@beyondnuclear.org.

Yucca Mountain-bound trucks, trains, and barges would carry high-level radioactive waste and irradiated nuclear fuel on roads, rails, and waterways in most states (43 of the lower 48). Centralized interim storage facilities (parking lot dumps), as at Waste Control Specialists in Andrews County, Texas, would launch such Mobile Chernobyls, floating Fukushimas, and radiological dirty bombs on wheels, as well.

It is high time to educate state, county, and local officials about these risks, and work to prevent them.

Your state, county, and locality could also pass a resolution opposing such risks as the Canadian Great Lakes shore radioactive waste dump proposal.