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Wednesday
Aug232017

John Oliver's right to ask "Why do we not have a nuclear toilet?" but then misses the mark

John Oliver from a (better!) segment, about related subject matter, from years ago, re: nuclear weapons absurdities in the U.S.

[See what-you-can-do action alert ideas, down below (in italics and bolded).]

Comedian John Oliver, on his Sunday evening HBO show "Last Week Tonight," asked many good questions regarding the radioactive waste dilemma in America, but unfortunately then missed the mark when it came to recommendations for what to do.

He described the absurdity of the problem well, whether the radioactive waste originated from the nuclear weapons complex, or commercial nuclear power industry.

But regarding the illusion of a solution that the nuclear establishment in government and industry has floated for a generation (all the excuse it has felt it has needed to keep generating radioactive waste ad nauseum), Oliver said "Maybe Yucca is the best place to store our growing supply of radioactive garbage; maybe it's not."

Oh John, it's not. Dumping radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada is a very bad idea, for many reasons, as countless millions of Americans have learned over the course of a generation.

A thousand environmental groups, fighting like hell for the past three decades, certainly aren't wrong about this one!

Nor is the State of Nevada, which had largely won the David versus Goliath struggle against the dump, only to now have Trump and Republican members of congress try, yet again, to ram the country's radioactive waste down the state's throat, against its will, as with the "Screw Nevada All Over Again" bill, U.S. Representative John Shimkus's (Republican-Illinois) "Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017," H.R. 3053.

Nor is the Native Community Action Council (NCAC), representing the views of the Western Shoshone, Goshute, and Southern Paiute indigenous peoples. NCAC has won standing as an official party in the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Yucca Mountain licensing proceeding (as has the State of Nevada). NCAC points to the Western Shoshone Indian Nation's ownership of the land and water rights at Yucca Mountain, under the terms of the "peace and friendship" Treaty of Ruby Valley, signed by the U.S. government in 1863. Treaties are the highest law of the land, equal in stature to the U.S. Constitution itself. The U.S. government has no right, no legal authority, to dump radioactive wastes on Western Shoshone land.

And what about the environmental injustice of it all? The radioactive racism? As if the testing of many hundreds of full-scale nuclear weapons on Western Shoshone land in Nevada, from 1951 to 1992, wasn't bad enough? (So-called "sub-critical" nuclear weapons testing still takes place in Nevada.) Now the U.S. wants to dump its military and commercial highly radioactive wastes there, too?!

And what about the earthquake risks at Yucca? The volcanic risks? The risks of massive releases of hazardous radioactivity to the air, and groundwater (used downstream for drinking water, and irrigation water, as by the agricultural community of Amargosa Valley, NV, as well as the Timbisha Band of Shoshone Indians in Death Valley, CA). See Beyond Nuclear's Yucca Mountain website section, for more information.

Oliver didn't say a peep about the need to stop making radioactive waste, by shutting down atomic reactors ASAP.

Nor did he say one word about the Mobile Chernobyl risks for 44 states and the District of Columbia, a large number of cities, and the vast majority of congressional districts, if H.R. 3053 were to become law, and 12,145 truck and trains casks were to begin rolling through countless communities, past the homes of millions of Americans, for the next 24 to 48 years. (That's assuming 70,000 metric tons of irradiated nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste burial in Nevada; Shimkus's H.R. 3053 would increase that to 110,000 metric tons, thus increasing the number of shipments by 50% as well, to around 18,000 cask shipments by road and rail.)

And don't forget about the highly radioactive waste barges on surface waters across the country, which could well be required to even get the rail casks to the nearest railhead to begin with!

For more information on such radioactive waste shipping safety and security risks, see Beyond Nuclear's Nuclear Waste Transportation website section for more information, as well as the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Project's Nuclear Waste Transporation website section.

Oliver didn't mention the environmental consensus in the U.S., endorsed by many hundreds of environmental groups for the past 15 years -- hardened on-site storage (HOSS), as close as possible to the point of generation, as safely as possible.

He didn't mention the need for proposed geologic repositories to be scientifically suitable, legal, environmentally just, and consent-based. Yucca fails each of those basic tests, miserably.

What can you do? Contact your U.S. Representative, and urge he/she to oppose U.S. Rep. Shimkus's H.R. 3053. Find your U.S. Representative's contact information, by entering your zip code, and clicking GO.

And contact both your U.S. Senators, and urge they vote against the confirmation of Trump's nominees to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, given their blatant bias in favor of the Yucca dump. You can Find Your Senators' contact information here.

(You can always also be patched through to both your U.S. Rep., and U.S. Senators, by calling the House and Senate Switchboards, respectively, at (202) 225-3121, and (202) 224-3121. And you can also take advantage of the last 10 days of the August congressional recess, by requesting face to face meetings about these issues with your member(s) of congress, while they are still at home in district until the congressional sessions resumes after Labor Day.)

NRC's Yucca licensing decision could well go down over the next five-year term at NRC, and Trump's nominees are not acceptable for the job, given their clear bias in favor of the Yucca dump.

The nominees are Annie Caputo and David Wright.

Annie Caputo is a former top lobbyist for Exelon Nuclear, and former top staffer for the lead pro-nuclear Republican committee chairmen in both the U.S. House and Senate. The Yucca dump is a top priority for Exelon Nuclear (and the rest of the nuclear power industry), for which she worked. Yucca was also a top priority for the pro-nuclear industry cheerleaders who she served as a top staffer in Congress, such as U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (Republican-Michigan), and U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (Republican-Oklahoma).

David Wright is a former South Carolina Public Service Commission president. He led efforts to not only subsidize the generation of radioactive waste for generations to come, at ratepayer expense, but also to end the Nuclear Waste Fund fee, meaning there won't be the needed funding to safely, securely, and soundly manage highly radioactive waste in the future.

Federal taxpayers will be looked to, to make up for the shortfall amounting to many tens of billions of dollars. This will be yet another massive public subsidy to the already heavily subsidized nuclear power industry, and its filthy rich executives, lobbyists, and shareholders.

To learn more about Beyond Nuclear's resistance to Caputo's and Wright's nominations by Trump to the NRC Commission, see Beyond Nuclear's NRC website subsection.