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.



Beyond Nuclear letter to the editor in the L.A. Times

The following letter to the editor was published in the Los Angeles Times, written in response to a Sept. 11, 2017 L.A. Times editorial:

To the editor: For 15 years, hundreds of environmental groups have advocated for hardened on-site storage of irradiated nuclear fuel, as close and safely as possible, to the point of generation as a necessary interim measure.
Why ship highly radioactive waste a thousand miles to the east when it could be moved just a few miles? San Onofre’s wastes can be transferred out of the tsunami zone, away from the earthquake faults, across the 5 Freeway, further inland and to higher ground. By moving the dangerous nuclear fuel rods into the heart of Camp Pendleton, there would be the added bonus of many thousands of U.S. Marines to help guard it.
The push to turn the New Mexico-Texas borderlands into a nuclear wasteland is an environmental injustice. The large Hispanic population already suffers significant pollution from oil drilling, natural gas fracking, uranium enrichment and “low-level” radioactive waste disposal.
Kevin Kamps, Takoma Park, Md. 

The writer monitors radioactive waste for the group Beyond Nuclear.


Physicians’ Organization Objects to San Onofre Deal: Edison Settlement Increases Health and Security Risks

PSR LA (Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles) has issued an excellent press release, blasting the settlement agreement reached between the NIMBY group Citizens' Oversight, and nuclear utility Southern California Edison (SCE). The settlement agreement seeks to export San Onofre's 1,800 metric tons of highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel, from the seaside nuclear power plant site, to either somewhere along the rail route to Yucca Mountain, Nevada; and/or to Waste Control Specialists in Texas; and/or to Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance in New Mexico; and/or to Palo Verde nuclear power plant in Arizona (part-owned by SCE).

(See Citizens' Oversight's press release announcing its settlement agreement with SCE; see a summary of the settlement agreement.)

Re: that first idea, to move San Onofre's wastes to somewhere along the rail route to Yucca Mountain, a May 31, 2017 article by Chris Clarke, published by KCET and Link TV, exposed Citizens' Oversight's egregiously flawed 2015 proposal to ship San Onofre's wastes to Fishel, CA, in an article entitled "Environmental Activists Suggest Dumping Radioactive Waste in National Monument."

The actual environmental consensus nation-wide is Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS), as close to the point of generation as possible. In keeping with that, moving the wastes a few miles further inland, to higher ground, into HOSS, deeper into the heart of Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, is the least-worst option, as PSR points out in its press release. Not only would this get the wastes out of the tsunami zone, and further away from coastal earthquake fault lines, but it would have the added bonus of security provided by a very large number of U.S. Marines.


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.

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