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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
Jun222016

DOE pushing "Consent-Based Siting" for high-level rad. waste parking lot dumps at mtg. near San Onofre, CA

As reported by the Orange County Register, the head of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) so-called "Consent-Based Siting" push, John Kotek, will push the agency's (and the nuclear industry's) agenda at a meeting of the San Onofre [nuclear power plant] Community Engagement Panel in southern CA.

Here are the meeting details (note the meeting is viewable via Webcast):

TALKING WASTE

WHAT: John F. Kotek, acting assistant secretary for nuclear energy, will speak with the San Onofre Community Engagement Panel.

WHEN: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. [Pacific time] Wednesday, June 22.

WHERE: San Juan Capistrano Community Center, 25925 Camino Del Avion.

INFORMATION: The event is open to the public and will be streamed live online. More on the panel, including video of meetings, is at: songscommunity.com. More on the DOE's push for interim storage is at energy.gov/ne/consent-based-siting.

There is a strong push by Southern California Edison, and its supporters in local government, to get the waste out of there, ASAP. They don't really care where it goes.

The intended targets for high-level radioactive waste parking lot dumps -- such as communities near Waste Control Specialists, LLC in Andrews County, Texas -- are speaking out against being targeted for the country's de facto permanent surface storage site.

An option for San Onofre's high-level radioactive waste would be to move it as close as possible, as safely as possible, from its current southern CA coastal location, to the Camp Pendleton U.S. Marine Corps Base, just across the highway. In addition to removing it from the tsunami zone, and further away from the earthquake zone, is that fact that a large number of highly trained and heavily armed U.S. Marines could help safeguard it. Moving it all the way to Texas, for no good reason, is not wise.

Wednesday
Jun152016

Six down, three to go: DOE "Consent-Based Siting" meetings

DOE's new "truth in advertizing" logo?!Six down: Washington, D.C., Jan. 20; Chicago, March 29; Atlanta, April 11; Sacramento, April 26 (Chernobyl+30 years); Denver, May 24; Boston, June 2 (see Democracy Now! coverage, mentioning Beyond Nuclear!).

Three to go:

  • Tempe, AZ on June 23, 2016 at the Marriott Phoenix Tempe at the Buttes. Please register here to attend the Tempe meeting in person or view the event online.
  • Boise, ID on July 14, 2016 at Boise Centre. Please register here to attend the Boise meeting in person or view the event online.
  • Minneapolis, MN on July 21, 2016 at the Hilton Minneapolis. Please register here to attend the Minneapolis meeting in person or view the event online.

Speak now (before the July 31 deadline for public comments), or forever hold your peace, regarding Mobile Chernobyls through a town near you...de facto permanent parking lot dumps for high-level radioactive waste...and permanent burial dumps for high-level radioactive waste on scientifically unsuitable, socially unacceptable, and/or environmentally unjust (radioactively racist) locations!

Thursday
Jun092016

VT's "Nuclear Free Future" discusses parking lot dumps & Mobile Chernobyls with Beyond Nuclear

Host Margaret Harrington of "Nuclear Free Future" on Channel 17/Town Meeting Television (CCTV Center for Media & Democracy of Burlington, Vermont) talks with Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear about how President Obama visited Hiroshima with the nuclear football, while his administration is going along with a trillion dollar nuclear weapons renovation plan over the next 30 years. The U.S. Department of Energy and the Senate seek parking lot dumps for high level nuclear waste, which would launch large numbers of Mobile Chernobyls. Grassroots environmentalists and consumer advocates from IL to OH, DC to NY continue to resist numerous multi-billion dollar ratepayer bailouts for old reactors sought by nuclear lobbyists.

Watch the 34-minute interview online.

The interview was filmed on June 3, 2016, but began airing on June 9th.

Tuesday
Jun072016

Anti-Nuclear Activists Speak Out During Dept. of Energy Tour over Nuclear Waste

As featured on the headlines segment of Democracy Now!:

The Department of Energy is conducting an eight-city national tour aimed at gathering public feedback on the issue of where to store nuclear waste. The agency has launched a so-called consent-based siting model to determine where to store spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. At a hearing in Boston Thursday, Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear raised objections to the process.

Paul Gunter: "How does the public in the affected community build trust when the Department of Energy itself is a promotional agency doing the bidding of the nuclear industry by direct promotion, and that the whole process going forward to date has lacked consent? There’s never been consent with regard to generation of nuclear waste."

Monday
Jun062016

Beyond Nuclear response to U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit panel ruling in NY v. NRC II, the Nuclear Waste Confidence Lawsuit

News from Beyond Nuclear

For Immediate Release, June 6, 2016

Contact: Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Beyond Nuclear, (240) 462-3216, kevin@beyondnuclear.org

Media Statement by Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear’s Radioactive Waste Watchdog, in Response to U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Panel Ruling in New York v. Nuclear Regulatory Commission II,

the Nuclear Waste Confidence Lawsuit:

“We are sorely disappointed by Friday’s ruling. The court did not seem to understand the very sound and forceful arguments our coalition of environmental organizations was making.

Our lawyers are reviewing Friday’s decision. We have options for moving ahead, and we expect a recommendation from our lawyers shortly about next steps. 

Suffice it for now to say, we will continue our efforts to demand the government address the very serious environmental risks posed by atomic reactor operation and highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel generation.

Irradiated nuclear fuel remains hazardous for a million years, as acknowledged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in its Yucca Mountain dump regulations. Exposure to highly radioactive nuclear waste, even decades after removal from an operating reactor core, at close range and with no radiation shielding, can deliver a fatal dose of gamma radiation in just minutes.

The timing of the court’s ruling is ironic. Just a couple weeks ago, a National Academies of Sciences (NAS) ‘Fukushima Lessons Learned’ panel reported that high-level radioactive waste storage pools in the U.S. are at high-risk of catastrophic fires, whether due to accident, natural disaster, or terrorist attack. In fact, such a mega-catastrophe was very narrowly avoided at Fukushima Daiichi, by sheer luck, the NAS panel reported.

These findings affirm a 2004 NAS report, prompted by the 9/11 attacks (the 2004 report was classified; a redacted public version was made available in 2006, but only after extended interference by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NRC). Despite the alarming findings and urgent recommendations of these NAS reports, the NRC has taken little to no action to address the risks.

Just days after the recent NAS report was published, Princeton researchers, Drs. Frank von Hippel and Michael Schoeppner, using state-of-the-art meteorological computer modeling, confirmed that an American irradiated nuclear fuel storage pool fire could release such catastrophic amounts of hazardous cesium-137, that it would dwarf the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe by comparison.

These are the very kinds of warnings our environmental coalition’s expert witness, Dr. Gordon Thompson of Institute for Resource and Security Studies, has made throughout this entire Nuclear Waste Confidence proceeding. In fact, Dr. Thompson co-authored a cutting edge January 2003 study on pool fire risks, by Alvarez et al. (including Von Hippel), which played a key role in prompting the 2004 NAS study in the first place.

Robert Alvarez emphasized this warning about pool fire risks in a May 2011 report, published in the aftermath of the beginning of the ongoing Fukushima nuclear catastrophe.

At standing room only hearings held across the country in 2013, countless hundreds of concerned citizens echoed these warnings, during NRC’s Nuclear Waste Confidence Environmental Impact Statement public comment period. NRC consistently ignoring such repeated warnings imperils us all.

Another co-author of the 2003 Alvarez et al. report, Dr. Allison Macfarlane, later served as NRC Chairman, from 2012 to 2014. Not only did Chairman Macfarlane vote for the expedited transfer of irradiated nuclear fuel, from pools to dry casks, as a needed safety and security upgrade; she also warned, in her Nuclear Waste Confidence vote itself, that institutional control over interim high-level radioactive waste surface storage facilities will eventually be lost over time, by definition.

In fact, that is an essential reason deep geologic disposal is the international scientific and policy consensus for long-term high-level radioactive waste management and isolation from the environment. Both NRC and even the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in its Final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed dumpsite at Yucca Mountain, Nevada (February 2002), have acknowledged that loss of institutional control at high-level radioactive waste surface storage facilities would result in catastrophic releases of hazardous radioactivity. 

It is very troubling that NRC has simply assumed that institutional control can be maintained at surface storage facilities forevermore, and that the court has endorsed such dangerously false confidence and high-risk technological hubris.

Beyond Nuclear repeats its call for the generation of high-level radioactive waste to be stopped. Dirty, dangerous and expensive nuclear power must be phased out, as soon as possible, and replaced with clean, safe, and affordable energy efficiency and renewable sources of electricity, such as wind and solar power.

The announcements of impending closure dates for several atomic reactors in recent days and weeks – Fort Calhoun, NE by the end of this year, Clinton, IL by mid-2017, and Quad Cities 1 and 2, IL by mid-2018 – is most welcome news. The end of reactor operations marks the end of high-level radioactive waste generation. Not making irradiated fuel in the first place, is the only truly safe, sound solution.

For the nearly 75,000 metric tons of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel that has been generated in the U.S. since 1957, Beyond Nuclear joins with many hundreds of environmental groups nationwide, representing every state, in calling for Hardened On-Site Storage as an alternative to high-risk pool storage, to high-risk transport to centralized interim storage sites, as well as to scientifically unsuitable, non-consent-based deep geologic repositories, as at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

As Beyond Nuclear founding board member, Dr. Judith Johnsrud (1931-2014) of the Environmental Coalition on Nuclear Power in State College, Pennsylvania, put it, radioactive waste may well be a “trans-solutional” problem, a problem we have created that is beyond our technological ability to solve.

And as Beyond Nuclear board member, Kay Drey of St. Louis, Missouri, has put it, we now have a mountain of radioactive waste 74 years high, and we don’t even know what to do with the first cupful. It’s time to stop making it.

--30—

Note: Beyond Nuclear is a named party of record in the NY v. NRC II appeal. Beyond Nuclear thus has had the honor of representing environmental coalitions engaged in various NRC licensing proceedings, including: the Davis-Besse, Ohio license extension proceeding (other intervening groups include Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don’t Waste Michigan, and the Ohio Green Party); the Fermi 2, Michigan license extension proceeding (Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Citizens Resistance at Fermi 2, and Don’t Waste Michigan also joined the intervention); and the Fermi 3, Michigan proposed new reactor combined Construction and Operating License Application (COLA) proceeding (other intervening groups include Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don’t Waste Michigan, and Sierra Club Michigan Chapter). In all three proceedings, attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo, Ohio served as the environmental coalitions’ legal counsel.

Hyperlinks to References:

June 3, 2016 court ruling

2016 NAS report

2006 NAS report

Princeton study

Gordon Thompson expert witness report

Alvarez et al., 2003

Alvarez, 2011

Macfarlane 2014 expedited transfer vote

DOE Yucca FEIS

HOSS principles