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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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Wednesday
Feb112015

Illinois speaks out against Canadian Great Lakes shoreline radioactive waste dump proposal

OPG's proposed so-called Deep Geologic Repository for radioactive waste burial would be located less than a mile from the Great Lakes shoreline.Today, DuPage County, the second most populous in Illinois, announced the passage of a resolution in opposition to the proposal by nuclear utility Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to bury radioactive wastes from 20 atomic reactors across the province at its Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, on the Lake Huron shore in Kincardine, ON (see photo, left). Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump shared the good news in a press release, with the DuPage Co. resolution attached.

On Feb. 6th, the City of Chicago also passed a similar resolution. As reported in the Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump's press release, the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, said: “The Great Lakes hold 84 percent of North America’s fresh water and Chicago’s position as the paramount Great Lakes city makes OPG’s proposed nuclear waste repository a threat to both public health and our environment. As shown by our City Council’s unanimous approval of a resolution opposing the repository, as well as the many voices throughout the United States and Canada, passionate support to protect our Great Lakes spans across North America and cannot be ignored.”

As tallied at the Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump website, the 142 resolutions, and counting, passed to date by tribes, states, counties, cities, towns, and villages across the Great Lakes Basin, represent a combined population of 17.9 million residents. Altogether, the Great Lakes provide drinking water for 40 million people in eight U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations.

What's especially significant about DuPage County's and Chicago's resolutions, is the fact that these are themselves "nuclear municipalities." DuPage County hosts the national HQ of Exelon in Warrenville, the biggest nuclear utility in the country, with 23 atomic reactors in its fleet. And Chicago, encircled by Exelon reactors (including identical twin designs to Fukushima Daiichi), gets around 80% of its electricity from nuclear power. Yet, these municipalities have spoken out against the insane proposal to bury radioactive waste on the Great Lakes shore.

As Dave Kraft, director of Nuclear Energy Information Service of Illinois, has pointed out, if burying radioactive waste on the Great Lakes shore is a bad idea, it's also a bad idea to be generating and storing it there in the first place.

Monday
Feb092015

Environmental coalition speaks out against unprecedented, risky, liquid high-level radioactive waste shipments!

Peace Bridge between Fort Niagara, ON and Buffalo, NY is one of numerous border crossings where unprecedented liquid HLRW shipments could travel.A coalition of environmental groups has submitted comments to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) regarding proposed truck shipments of liquid high-level radioactive waste, to travel from Chalk River, Ontario to Savannah River Site, South Carolina.

The comments were filed regarding CNSC's Technical Assessment Report: “NAC-LWT Package Design for Transport of Highly Enriched Uranyl Nitrate Liquid.”

NAC-LWT is short for Nuclear Assurance Corporation-Legal Weight Truck.

Comments were submitted by Dr. Gordon Edwards, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsiblity; Beyond Nuclear; Northwatch; and many others.

The shipment of liquid high-level radioactive waste is unprecedented, extremely risky, and unnecessary.

Saturday
Feb072015

Many have tried, all have failed // Washington Examiner: GOP must overcome Reid to get to Yucca nuclear storage

As shown in Jim Day's political cartoon (be sure to count the toes) in the Las Vegas Review Journal, the President Obama zeroed out funding, and ordered his DOE to withdraw the license application, in 2010.U.S. Senator Harry Reid's (D-NV) Communications Director, Adam Jentleson, put it concisely with that Tweet above, in response to a Washington Examiner article.

Even as Minority Leader in a Republican majority Senate, Reid can be counted on to block any attempt to resurrect the long-canceled high-level radioactive waste dump targeted at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, as he has done for decades, ever since the "Screw Nevada bill" was passed into law in 1987.

In 2010, President Obama zeroed out funding for the Yucca Mountain Project, and ordered the U.S. Department of Energy to withdraw the construction and operating license application.

Tuesday
Feb032015

State of Vermont resists Entergy's attempts to eliminate emergency preparedness for high-level radioactive waste storage pool fire

NRC file photo of VY. The HLRW storage pool is located in the lighter colored upper portion of the reactor building, some 50 feet or more in the air.As reported by Vermont Digger, a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) panel has just denied a petition by the State of Vermont demanding NRC require Entergy Nuclear to maintain emergency monitoring data systems on its high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) storage pool at the recently permanently shutdown Vermont Yankee (VY) atomic reactor. VY's pool currently holds nearly 3,000 highly radioactive, thermally hot irradiated nuclear fuel assemblies.

As also reported three months ago by Vermont Digger, Entergy also wants to do away with emergency response planning by April 2016, even though HLRW will remain in the storage pool for several years beyond that. The State of Vermont wants emergency preparedness kept in place as long as HLRW is stored in the pool.

Whether due to a fast breaking drain down (as from the drop of a heavy load, natural disaster, insider sabotage, or terrorist attack), or a slower motion boil down (as from loss of offsite electricity to run circulation pumps), the loss of the cooling water in the storage pool would lead, within hours, to the ignition of the zirconium metal cladding on the fuel rods. A catastrophic radioactivity release over a wide region would follow, as the pool is located outside of robust containment structures.

Before later becoming NRC Chairman, Dr. Allison Macfarlane, et al., warned in a Jan. 2003 report about the catastrophic risks of pool fires. Robert Alvarez of Institute for Policy Studies, one of her co-authors, documented shortly after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe began that VY's pool holds around 100 million curies of hazardous, radioactive Cesium-137. As cited in the 2003 Macfarlane et al. study, NRC has admitted that up to 100% of the volatile Cs-137 could escape into the environment in a pool fire.

Friday
Jan302015

Yucca Mountain dump still dead, despite congressional Republican and nuclear industry spin to the contrary

Political cartoon by Jim Day of the Las Vegas Review Journal (be sure to count the toes!). President Obama and his DOE defunded and walked away from the Yucca Mountain dump project in 2009-2010, declaring it "unworkable."As reported by Steve Tetrault at the Las Vegas Review Journal, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued the last two installments in a five-part "Safety Evaluation Report" on the proposed high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) dump at Yucca Mountain. The NRC coffers for licensing the Yucca dump are now largely empty, with no replinishment in sight on Capitol Hill, due to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) adamant opposition.

Despite congressional Republican and nuclear power industry spin to the contrary, the completion of the NRC SER does not represent the resurrection of the Yucca dump. The State of Nevada, its bipartisan congressional delegation, and the Obama White House and Department of Energy remain opposed to the project. Even the industry rubberstamp NRC has not endorsed the project, pointing out significant shortcomings, with lack of land title and water rights at the top of that list. There is also no guarantee that the essential titanium drip shields, needed to protect HLRW burial containers against dripping water from the fractured and saturated geology forevermore, would ever actually be installed.

Nevada's bipartisan U.S. Senate delegation has made it clear in no uncertain terms they will do everything in their power to continue to block the Yucca dump from ever happening.