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.



Environmental coalition demands NEPA & AEA compliance re: Nuclear Waste Confidence in reactor licensing proceedings

Irradiated nuclear fuel being moved in a high-level radioactive waste storage pool. The courts ruled in 2012 that NRC's days (well, many decades!) of lawlessness regarding nuclear waste generation, storage, and disposal are over.In a legal filing today, a coalition of environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear, has demanded that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) fulfill its legally required obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Atomic Energy Act (AEA), regarding its Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) and Rule in various atomic reactor licensing proceedings around the country. The coalition is represented by attorneys Diane Curran of Washington, D.C., and Mindy Goldstein of Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University in Atlanta.

In several reactor licensing proceedings where Final EISs came out prior to court victories negating NRC's Nuclear Waste Confidence policy (or "Nuke Waste Con Game," for short!) for violating NEPA and AEA in 2012, NRC has neither included the full 2014 Continued Storage GEIS and Rule in new reactor combined Construction and Operating License Application (COLA) proceeding FEISs, nor old reactor license extension proceeding FEISs. To not do so violates NEPA, and portions of AEA, and their implementing regulations at NRC, as well as the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

On Dec. 8, 2014, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, represented by Curran, filed a Nuclear Waste Confidence-related placeholder contention in the Callaway atomic reactor license extension proceeding. That contention has, thus far, succeeded in staving off NRC's imminent rubberstamp of Callaway's 20-year extension.

Attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo represents Beyond Nuclear in the intervention against NRC approval of the proposed new Fermi Unit 3 reactor COLA in southeast Michigan, on the Great Lakes shoreline. Today's filing by Lodge  in that proceeding seeks to preserve Beyond Nuclear's opportunity to file a Nuclear Waste Confidence contention against Fermi 3, like was done at Callaway several weeks ago.


Entergy's Pilgrim atomic reactor to remain on NRC's "degraded cornerstone" list for second year, as winter storm bears down

NRC file photo of Entergy Nuclear's Pilgrim atomic reactor on Cape Cod Bay near BostonAs reported by The Enterprise, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has kept Entergy Nuclear's Pilgrim atomic reactor (photo, left), near Boston, on its "degraded cornerstone" list of worst performing atomic reactors in the country. Ironically, Entergy failed an NRC inspection, even though it told the agency when it was ready to be inspected. First of all, when do students get to tell the teacher when they're ready for the exam? And then fail the test?! Who's the regulator, and who's the regulated?!

This comes as a severe winter storm bears down on Boston. As the industry lobby and PR front, Nuclear Energy Institute, brags up nuclear power's supposed reliability during severe winter weather, anti-nuclear and environmental watchdogs near Pilgrim put out a press release warning that severe weather increases the safety risks of reactor operations and high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) management. Despite this, the reactor remains at 100% power, and inherently risky HLRW pool to dry cask transfer operations continue as if business is usual.

During Superstorm Sandy in 2012, the storm surge came precariously close to flooding safety-significant pumps needed to keep cooling water circulating in the HLRW storage pool at Pilgrim.

Pilgrim is an age-degraded, General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactor, identical in design to Fukushima Daiichi Units 1-4.


TransCanada's other dirty, dangerous, and expensive energy scheme: Bruce Nuclear and the proposed Great Lakes radioactive waste dump

TransCanada Pipeline's radioactive wastes from its Bruce Nuclear Generating Station are targeted to be buried less than a mile from the Lake Huron shoreline.TransCanada Pipelines, infamous for its Keystone XL tar sands pipeline scheme, is also a nuclear power utility and generator of radioactive wastes.

TransCanada is a major partner in Bruce Nuclear, which leases and operates Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Kincardine, Ontario (photo, left). Bruce is one of the world's single largest nuclear power plants, with a total of nine reactors on one site: one long-shuttered early prototype reactor (Douglass Point), and eight operable commercial CANDUs (Canadian Deuterium-Uranium reactors) at the adjacent Bruce A and Bruce B nuclear power plants.

Bruce Nuclear is located on the Great Lakes shoreline, 50 miles across Lake Huron from Michigan. OPG proposes to bury all of the province's so-called "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive wastes, including those generated by TransCanada Pipeline's, in a "Deep Geologic Repository" (DGR) at Bruce. This, despite the risk to the drinking water for 40 million people in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations. Learn more, and take action!


Environmental coalition cites lack of Nuclear Waste Confidence, calls for suspension of reactor licensing proceedings

An environmental coalition embroiled in numerous old, degraded reactor license extension -- as well as proposed new reactor construction and operation license -- proceedings has filed its "CONSOLIDATED REPLY TO ANSWERS TO PETITIONS TO SUSPEND FINAL REACTOR LICENSING DECISIONS, MOTIONS TO ADMIT A NEW CONTENTION, AND MOTIONS TO REOPEN THE RECORD" before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The filing is a response to "Answers" filed a week ago by NRC staff and the nuclear utilities, as well as to an amicus curiae filing made by the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry's lobbying arm in Washington, D.C. The environmental coalition's "Consolidated Reply" was prepared by Diane Curran of the Washington, D.C. law firm Harmon, Curran, Spielberg + Eisenberg, LLP, as well as Mindy Goldstein, Director of the Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta.

Terry Lodge, a Toledo-based attorney who represents Beyond Nuclear and other environmental groups in their interventions against the Davis-Besse, OH and Fermi 2, MI license extensions, and the Fermi 3, MI Construction and Operating Licence Application (COLA), filed the "Consolidated Reply" in these proceedings.


States, tribe, groups take NRC Nuke Waste Con Game back to court

Environmental coalition attorney Diane CurranThe States of New York, Vermont, and Connecticut have filed an appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, challenging the U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Nuclear Waste Confidence (renamed Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel) Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) and Rule. The Office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a press release, as did the Office of Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell.

As reported by Minnesota Public Radio, the Star Tribune, and the Post Bulletin, the Prairie Island Indian Community (PIIC) joined the states' lawsuit. In August, PIIC expressed its disappointment at NRC's decision to ignore the risks of on-site storage of high-level radioactive waste at Xcel Energy's Prairie Island nuclear power plant, located just 600 yards from the nearest tribal residents on the PIIC reservation, on an island in the Mississippi River prone to flooding.

World Nuclear News, Power Magazine, FierceEnergy, and the Brattleboro Reformer reported on the states' lawsuit.

A coalition of nine environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear, followed suit, filing a parallel lawsuit. Diane Curran (photo, above) of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg + Eisenberg, LLP, of Washington, DC, and Mindy Goldstein of Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University in Atlanta, serve as legal counsel for the coalition. (NRDC filed a separate, parallel lawsuit.) The Hill reported on the environmental coalition lawsuit, which alleges violations of both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as well as the Atomic Energy Act (AEA).

In June 2012, a three judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the states, tribe, and environmental coalition on NRC's Nuclear Waste Confidence policy. The court ordered NRC to carry out an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under NEPA. The current round of lawsuits alleges that NRC flouted the court order, given the shallowness, and worse, of the so-called EIS it carried out, which, among other transgresssions, ignored many thousands of public comments, including comprehensive analysis by expert witnesses working on behalf of the environmental coalition.

If the courts rule in favor of the states, tribe, and environmental coalition on the current round of challenges against NRC's Nuclear Waste Confidence/Continuted Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel policy, it could result in major delays in proposed new reactor licensing proceedings, as well as degraded old reactor license extension proceedings.

Beyond Nuclear provides organizational standing for the coalition, thanks to: its six-year-old intervention against the proposed new Fermi 3, MI reactor; its nearly four-year-old intervention against the Davis-Besse, OH, license extension; and its recently launched intervention against the Fermi 2, MI license extension. Michael Keegan of Monroe, MI is the Beyond Nuclear member providing our organization standing in these proceedings, due to his residence with 8 miles of Fermi, and within 50 miles of Davis-Besse. Toledo attorney Terry Lodge serves as legal counsel for Beyond Nuclear in all three proceedings.