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.



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.


Nuclear Free Future: Vermont Yankee, Nuclear Waste, Mobile Chernobyl

As hosted by Margaret Harrington on Channel 17/Town Meeting Television (Burlington, VT):


Chris Williams, Vermont organizer for the Citizens Awareness Network, talks about the Vermont Yankee/North Star proposal which gives the Paris, France based company Areva the contract to segment, package, and transport to offsite disposal the reactor pressure vessel and internal reactor components of the VY Boiling Water Reactor.

Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste watchdog of Beyond Nuclear, discusses the Nuclear Waste Amendments Act of 2017, which U.S. Representative Peter Welch from Vermont voted for in committee on June 28. He also talks about Waste Control Specialists and irradiated fuel shipments through most states.

Watch the recording.


Why the Scariest Nuclear Threat May Be Coming from Inside the White House

As reported by Michael Lewis in Vanity Fair.

The article begins:

Donald Trump’s secretary of energy, Rick Perry, once campaigned to abolish the $30 billion agency that he now runs, which oversees everything from our nuclear arsenal to the electrical grid. The department’s budget is now on the chopping block. But does anyone in the White House really understand what the Department of Energy actually does? And what a horrible risk it would be to ignore its extraordinary, life-or-death responsibilities?

It includes an extensive section on the mismanagement of radioactive waste cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State.


Nuke waste dump/Mobile Chernobyl bill heads to U.S. House floor -- Urge your U.S. Rep. to block it!

Despite a 50-group environmental coalition in opposition, H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017, as amended, passed the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee by a vote of 49 to 4 (see the text of the bill, as well as the four amendments now attached to it, here).

All Republican members, and all but four Democrats (Schakowsky of IL, Ben Lujan of NM, Loebsack of IA, and Engel of NY) who were present, voted in favor of reviving the cancelled Yucca Mountain, NV high-level radioactive waste dump, and legalizing private de facto permanent parking lot dumps, targeted at TX and NM.

If enacted, the legislation could pave the way for unprecedented numbers of irradiated nuclear fuel truck and train, as well as barge, shipments to begin moving in just a few years, through most states, many major cities, and most U.S. congressional districts, risking Mobile Chernobyls, Floating Fukushimas, and Dirty Bombs on Wheels.

If any of the four Dems above, who voted right, is your U.S. Rep., please thank them by calling their office via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 225-3121.

If your U.S. Rep. is on the committee and voted wrong, express your disapproval and urge they change their vote.

Now that the bill is moving to the U.S. House floor, likely in the near future, everyone should contact their own U.S. Rep., and urge opposition to this very dangerous bill.

See Beyond Nuclear's press statement about H.R. 3053, for ideas on points to communicate to your U.S. Rep.

You can look up your U.S. Rep.'s full contact info. at this website, by typing in your ZIP code in the upper right, clicking GO, and following the internet links.


NIRS: Save the Date: Don't Waste America Telebriefing--Thursday, July 13th!

Announcement from our friends and colleagues at Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS):

Save the Date: Don't Waste America Telebriefing--Thursday, July 13th!

Dear Friend,

Please join us for our live national telebriefing, Don't Waste America!, on Thursday, July 13th, 8pm-9:30pm (EDT)/7:00pm (CDT)/6:00 pm (MDT)/5:00 pm (PDT).

Don't Waste America is a national campaign focused on preventing decades of massive and dangerous high-level radioactive waste transport across the United States, which would occur if efforts to revive the scientifically-indefensible Yucca Mountain, Nevada waste dump are accomplished, or if a Centralized or Consolidated “Interim” Storage (CIS) site for high-level radioactive waste is created.

With the close of five nuclear reactors since 2013, and nine others scheduled to close by 2020, we celebrate the decreased generation of high-level waste at these reactor sites. When fission stops, public health improves! However, it is vital that the solution chosen to isolate and store the generated waste at these closed and/or closing reactor sites, and the waste that continues to be generated at the 99 other nuclear reactor sites that are still operating, is scientifically and morally sound.

Click here to register for the telebriefing and receive all of the details!

The campaign has four main components:  End Yucca, Stop Nuclear Waste Transport, Consolidated Interim Storage, and Hardened On-Site Storage.

  • Ian Zabarte (Principal Man, Western Bands Shoshone Nation Newe Sogobia) will present End Yucca!
  • Diane D’Arrigo (Director, Radioactive Waste Project of NIRS) will present Stop CIS!
  • Deb Katz (Citizen Awareness Network) will present Implement HOSS!
  • Mary Olson (Director, NIRS Southeast) will moderate and reflect on how waste transport intersects with the above.

This national conversation is appropriate for newcomers and seasoned activists alike! We will reserve plenty of time for your questions and short comments after the presentations.

This telebriefing is free, but registration is required. Your confirmation email will include the dial-in number. 

We will begin promptly at 8:00pm (EDT)/7:00pm (CDT)/6:00 pm (MST)/5:00 pm (PST). We hope you will join in!

If you cannot attend, but would like to receive the link to the recorded telebriefing, please register. We will send a link to the recorded telebriefing to all registered participants. 

Thanks for all you do!


Mary Olson

Director, NIRS Southeast Office


Join us for our national Don't Waste America! telebriefing