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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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Tuesday
Mar252014

Opponents to 20 more years at Davis-Besse cite radioactive waste dilemma

Environmental coalition attorney Terry Lodge of ToledoThe environmental coalition opposing the 20-year license extension sought by FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) at its problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor on the Lake Erie shore east of Toledo has spoken out at NRC Environmental Impact Statement public comment meetings. The coalition issued a press release, focused on the unsolved dilemma created by Davis-Besse's ongoing generation of forever deadly high-level radioactive waste, as well as the renewables alternative (wind power, solar PV, etc.) to a risky, dubious 20 more years of atomic reactor operations.

The press release quoted Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps: “The worsening cracking of Davis-Besse’s concrete containment, the corrosion of its inner steel containment vessel, the risks of its experimental steam generator replacement, and its recently revealed Shield Building wall gap are clear signs that this atomic reactor is overdue for retirement and decommissioning.”

The coalition includes Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio. Terry Lodge of Toledo serves as the coalition's legal counsel.

Thursday
Mar202014

Please attend by webcast/phone: NRC Commission Nuke Waste Con Game update, Friday, March 21, 1pm Eastern

Environmental coalition members from the Crabshell Alliance, Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Campaign, NIRS, PSR, NEIS, and Public Citizen "just say NO!" at the NRC HQ nuke waste con game public comment meeting on 11/14 in Rockville, MD. Photo credit David Martin and Erica GreyOn Friday, March 21, 2014, at 1:00 p.m. EDT, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Nuclear Waste Confidence Directorate Staff and invited parties will brief the Commission in a public meeting on the Waste Confidence rulemaking (see the meeting agenda, slides, and backgrounder below).

The Directorate has announced:

"A telephone bridge line has been made available for this Friday’s Commission meeting on Waste Confidence:

Phone Number:  1-888-972-6409

Passcode:  5638944

Alternately, you can view a live Webcast of the meeting here:  http://video.nrc.gov/

We suggest accessing the meeting using either the bridge line OR the Webcast.  If you attempt to watch the Webcast while listening to the bridge line, the Webcast will lag behind the bridge line audio.

There is no need to pre-register to listen in on the bridge line or view the Webcast.  If you have additional questions about the Commission meeting, please contact Rochelle Bavol at (301) 415-1651 or e-mail RidsSecyMailCenter.Resource@nrc.gov.  If you have questions specific to Waste Confidence, please call Sarah Lopas at (301) 287-0675."

For those in the D.C. area, please consider attending in person. The meeting will be held in the Commissioners’ Conference Room at NRC Headquarters, One White Flint, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland, 20852. Allow extra time to clear security screening up front.

Presenters will include NRC's Nuclear Waste Confidence Directorate Staff; Ronald Johnson, Tribal Council President, Prairie Island Indian Community; John Sipos, Assistant Attorney General, State of New York; Ellen Ginsberg, Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary, Nuclear Energy Institute; Michael Callahan, Decommissioning Plant Coalition; and Geoffrey Fettus, Senior Project Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council.

Here are important background documents related to this update meeting: 

Agenda

Slide Show Presentations (links to the webcast archive and transcript will also be available after the meeting at this same link)

Commission Paper (SECY): Waste Confidence—Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel Proposed Rule: Public Feedback on Specific Issues (Feb. 28, 2014)

In June 2012, a landmark federal appeals court decision ordered NRC to undertake an Environmental Impact Statement on commercial high-level radioactive waste generation, storage, and disposal. The Prairie Island Tribe and State of New York Attorney General's Office, in alliance with the AGs of Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey played a key role in this New York v. NRC ruling. But so too did an environmental coalition of dozens of groups (including Beyond Nuclear), with legal counsel from NRDC, as well as Diane Curran of Washington, D.C., and the Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University.

Last autumn, NRC held about a dozen public comment meetings on the EIS around the country. Many thousands of public comments were submitted, both orally and in writing, by the Dec. 20, 2013 deadline.

Wednesday
Feb262014

2/28 Webinars featuring Beyond Nuclear: Paul Gunter on NRC's post-Fukushima safety requirements; Kevin Kamps on HOSS

Friday, February 28th @ 12 noon (Eastern)


Keep It Up! Alternatives to Deep Burial of Nuclear Waste

While deep burial of irradiated nuclear fuel has been the nuclear industry's objective since the 1970s, there are other, broadly supported ideas for immediate safety upgrades that have long been ignored. Kevin Kamps from Beyond Nuclear (USA) will discuss Hardened On-Site Storage as an alternative, interim means of increasing security for high level nuclear fuel waste for the near- to mid-term.

Nuclear Waste On-line

February 2014 Webinar Series

Please join us for our February 2014 series of on-line workshops about nuclear waste in Canada. This webinar series is offered free of charge using the on-line meeting service at www.anymeeting.com. Visit Northwatch's page at www.anymeeting.com/Northwatch for webinar details, to register, and /or to join the workshops.

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NRC's Post-Fukushima Safety Requirements: Current Status, Upcoming Actions, and Implications


With the third anniversary of the Fukushima accidents coming up and still very little meaningful action by NRC, we want to provide everyone with a full update. The anniversary will provide local media opportunities, and we expect plenty of national media attention for grassroots activists to comment on. We will hear from an expert and movement leaders who have been at the forefront watchdogging and pressuring the NRC, the Post-Fukushima Near Term Task Force, and Congress, throughout the process.

Presenters:

David Lochbaum – Union of Concerned Scientists
Paul Gunter – Beyond Nuclear
Tim Judson – NIRS

David, Paul, and Tim will provide an overview of the actions proposed by NRC, what is missing and unaddressed, where they stand on implementation, upcoming opportunities for engagement, and the safety and economic implications for the industry.

Register now!

Friday
Feb212014

Coalition files Petition to NRC to strengthen reactor license extension rules due to significant new revelations on radioactive waste risks

Environmental coalition attorney Diane CurranA Petition for Rulemaking was filed on Feb. 18th by Washington, D.C.-based attorney, Diane Curran (photo, left), as well as Mindy Goldstein of the Emory U. Turner Environmental Law Clinic, to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The Petition seeks to re-open the License Renewal GEIS (Generic Environmental Impact Statement), in order to consider new and significant information about irradiated nuclear fuel storage impacts that was generated by the NRC Staff during the Expedited Spent Fuel Transfer proceeding, carried out under NRC's Fukushima "Lessons Learned" activities. Curran and Goldstein filed the Petition on behalf of three dozen environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear.

One of these risks newly recognized by NRC Staff is the contribution of high-level radioactive waste storage pool risks to reactor catastrophes, and vice versa.

NRC staff has also admitted that release into the environment of even a small fraction of the contents of a high-level radioactive waste storage pool could cause the long-term dislocation of more than 4 million people, and could render more than 9,000 square miles of land uninhabitable for long time periods. What would the socio-economic costs of such a catastrophe be? Don't people have the inalienable right to safety, health, and environmental protection?

Also, what are the risks to the environment and non-human biota? Answering such questions is part and parcel of the requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act, as the Petition points out.

The filing urges that no reactor license extensions be approved by NRC until the Petition for Rulemaking has been integrated into NRC's safety regulations.

Thursday
Feb202014

DOE signs $6.5 billion federal nuclear loan guarantee for Vogtle 3 & 4

Aerial image of Plant Vogtle Nuclear Generating Station - photo credit to High Flyer. The photo shows the operating Units 1 and 2, as well as the construction site for proposed new Units 3 and 4.U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz has announced that the Department of Energy (DOE) will sign an agreement with Southern Co. and Oglethorpe Power for a $6.5 billion loan guarantee that puts federal taxpayers on the hook if the Vogtle 3 & 4 new reactor project defaults on its loan repayments. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will speak at the proposed new reactor construction site at 2 PM Eastern today, Thursday, Feb. 20th (you can listen to his address by calling 1-800-282-1696).

President Obama gave the Vogtle 3 & 4 federal loan guarantee offer (for a total of $8.3 billion) the highest profile possible, by announcing it himself at a press event in Feb. 2010. Despite this, it has taken over four years for the project proponents to sign on the dotted line, given their reluctance to put any of their own "skin in the game," in the form of credit subsidy fees. The nuclear loan guarantee program was authorized in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, and $22.5 billion was approved by Congress and George W. Bush for new nuclear facilities on Dec. 23, 2007 ($18.5 billion for new reactors, $4 billion for new uranium enrichment).

The $8.3 billion Vogtle 3 & 4 federal loan guarantee is 15 times bigger than the infamous Solyndra solar loan guarantee, which defaulted on its loan repayment, a $585 million loss to the U.S. Treasury. But the Vogtle 3 & 4 loan guarantee is at much higher financial risk of default than was the Solyndra solar project!

Beyond Nuclear's Paul Gunter blasted the deal in a Common Dreams interview. Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) also blasted the deal in a press release. Harvey Wasserman has penned an essay entitled "Obama's Nuke-Powered Drone Strike on America's Energy Future."

Please contact President Obama and Energy Secretary Moniz, registering your disapproval of this $6.5 billion nuclear loan guarantee, and urging them not to grant the remaining $1.8 billion nuclear loan guarantee to project partner MEAG for Vogtle 3 & 4. Also urge them to withdraw any further nuclear loan guarantee offers, with the remaining $10.2 billion authorized for new reactors, and $4 billion authorized for new uranium enrichment.

But the federal nuclear loan guarantees, and even the CWIP charges which are gouging Georgia ratepayers, are not the only subsidies benefitting this proposed new reactor project. If Vogtle 3 & 4 do get built and operated, the George W. Bush DOE also obligated U.S. taxpayers to ultimate liability for the risks and costs of the high-level radioactive waste they would generate. DOE hastily signed the contract in the last days of the Bush administration, despite the fact that federal courts are awarding $500 million per year in damages to nuclear utilities for DOE's breach of contract for failing to begin taking title to irradiated nuclear fuel in 1998 under the contractual agreements signed in the mid-1980s. The hastily signed contacts were exposed by D.C. attorney Diane Curran, IEER President Arjun Makhijani, and Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps in a March 24, 2010 press conference based on a FOIA Request.