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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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Friday
Dec022016

National Grassroots Radioactive Waste Summit, December 2 to 4, 2016, Chicago, Illinois

A Retreat for those who focus on High-Level Radioactive Waste

Beyond Nuclear, Takoma Park, MDThis Summit will bring people together from nuclear power reactor areas where highly radioactive waste is located now, communities being targeted for new nuclear waste sites, and those along transport routes in between.  International alliances with Native American and Canadian colleagues are important here too. This event is designed for those “in the trenches” of radioactive waste proposals and policies.

Anyone new to the issue and interested in attending is invited to contact Mary Olson (maryo@nirs.org) or Dave Kraft (neis@neis.org) to explore options. The venue, Cenacle Center in Chicago is limited to 88 beds; another dozen participants may stay off-site. Cost information and registration is available here: (LINK TO REGISTRATION)

 

North American Water Office (NAWO), Lake Elmo, MNThe Summit will convene on Friday, December 2 with Dinner (starting at 5pm local Chicago time), and will adjourn Sunday afternoon at 4pm Central time. This will primarily be a working Summit to define a national campaign for 2017. Selected technical updates will be addressed during the Summit.

Friday, December 2 pre-Summit working groups will convene at the venue earlier in the day. For more information on these, and who to contact for more info., see: (LINK FOR FRIDAY INFO).

Southwest Research and Information Service (SRIC), Albuquerque, NMA working outline of the program is available (LINK)

SUMMIT VENUE DESCRIPTION

SUGGESTIONS FOR RAISING TRAVEL MONEY

 

A GRASSROOTS SUMMIT:

Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), Takoma Park, MDTimed shortly after the US elections and also the anticipated departures of the Obama Administration and Harry Reid, this Summit is called now to build Grassroots agreement on High Level Radioactive Waste policy. Based on that agreement, we will put pieces of a working campaign together.

 

 

Citizens Awareness Network (CAN), Shelburne Falls, MAThese values have formed the basis of our work for decades:

  1. It is essential that all communities dealing with High Level Radioactive Waste (both reactor and storage/disposal) work together.
  2. We need to once again create effective strategies and actions to defeat bad policies that will support the survival and expansion of the nuclear industry.
  3. New plans to relocate waste once again target vulnerable communities. Until the criteria of sound science and environmental justice drive policy, waste should remain where it is, on at reactor sites. 
  4. At the same time, keeping waste where it is for now, in reactor communities, must include upgrades for greater safety and security.
  5. The communities around reactors are forced to be guardians of the world’s most toxic and long-lasting waste. The ultimate goals of long-term containment and isolation of radioactivity from our environment can only be met if met now, at the reactor sites. 

Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS), Chicago, ILWhat does responsible “interim” of storage of waste on reactor sites look like? Our community has broad support for Principles of Safeguarding Nuclear Waste at Reactor Sites, also referred to as Hardened On-Site Storage, or “HOSS” (see: URL HERE). HOSS is a mandate to remove accumulated High Level Radioactive Waste from reactor fuel pools and to provide greater safety and security for all waste storage on reactor sites. Can we expand our agreements to specify additional steps to strengthen local storage? At the Summit we will consider additional Principles addressing shortfalls in containers, waste management and monitoring to adopt in addition to the HOSS Principles.

Although the nuclear industry and federal government committed to dispose of high level radioactive waste (HLRW), no acceptable program exists.  Congress mandated a repository program in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act and then abandoned science in favor of politics when Yucca Mountain of the Western Shoshone in Nevada was targeted, even though the site did not meet basic scientific criteria and the local community, the Western Shoshone Nation and the State of Nevada all said “No.” Billions of dollars have been expended to establish Yucca Mountain as a permanent repository. This boondoggle failed (though the cancellation is not complete) due to site unsuitability, corruption, inadequate safeguards, Western Shoshone and Nevada’s opposition.

The Industry has a pressing need to create an illusion of a solution because dangerous waste piling up at reactor sites undermines its position that nuclear is clean and safe.  Once again the industry’s plan is simple: Move the waste to another site (or sites). The new site, known as a “Parking Lot Dump” would use the exact same dry storage technology in use at reactors. As reactors continue to make more waste, the new site is simply “one more” site. In addition to the absurdity that simply moving the waste is a “solution,” there is the danger that these sites will become de facto permanent. Proposed consolidated storage sites do not have to meet the environmental standards of a permanent site.

Like every existing nuclear site, from mining to milling to processing to reactors to waste disposition, these new proposed sites are routinely sited in low income, rural, people of color and Native American communities. A new wrinkle is the idea that the nuclear industry “winning consent” from a “host community” makes this picture “ok.” Moving this waste more than once and treating storage of the worst waste ever as “economic development” for communities in need is something that our community explicitly opposes. The Department of Energy will need a change in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act to move ahead, but it is even now making plans for "consent-based siting" of High Level Radioactive Waste at the WCS so-called “low-level” waste site in Andrews County, TX; and / or Eddy-Lea Counties Energy Alliance, in NM; at possible but undisclosed Native American reservations; at the Dresden nuclear power plant in IL; and possibly on or near the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

The Industry and some of its newest, youngest proponents seek to pit nuclear communities against each other: reactor communities fear inadequate storage casks, lack of onsite protections and HLRW abandonment by the Feds.  Targeted communities for nuclear waste disposal share the same concerns but don’t want dangerous nuclear waste in their backyard, particularly given the abysmal record of leaks and inadequate environmental protections. Waste communities face unconscionable choices:  short- term economic survival or long-term health and safety. Nonetheless, we all have more in common with each other than we do with the nuclear industry that seeks to manufacture more and more of this waste.

We are communities that share the same overall goals: the end of the production of highly radioactive waste and a robust commitment to its continued security, containment and isolation from our environment. We, and communities along the roads and rails between us, must work together.  When we work together, we can create effective strategies & and actions to defeat the Industry’s illusion they have eliminated the waste problem. When we work together, we can influence US energy policy to turn away from making more nuclear waste of any kind.

The national elections will form a backdrop, but this event is non-partisan. Both major political parties in the US have had a large hand in creating the nuclear waste problem. It is unlikely that the elections will resolve any of these concerns — but the new Congress and Administration will be the terrain in which our action over the coming years will unfold. Gathering at this time to chart a path makes sense. Join us!

 

Organizational co-sponsors (listed alphabetically; see logos above): 

Beyond Nuclear; Citizens Awareness Network (CAN); Native Community Action Council (NCAC); North American Water Office (NAWO); Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS); Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS); Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR); Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Campaign; Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC).

Thursday
Sep152016

DOE opens another round of public comment on draft 'Consent-Based Siting'

Concerned citizens and environmental groups have been expressing their non-consent to bad, dangerous radioactive waste policies for a very long time. This photo was taken at NRC HQ in Rockville, MD in Nov. 2013, as representatives of an environmental coalition protested NRC's Nuke Waste Con Game (Nuclear Waste Confidence, or Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel) policies, allowing unlimited generation of irradiated nuclear fuel, and its unsafe storage in pools and dry casks for decades, and even centuries, to come. Photo credit: Erica Grey and Dave Martin.On the very eve of its September 15th public meeting in Washington, DC -- to summarize public comments received between Dec. 23, 2015 to July 31, 2016 re: so-called 'Consent-Based Siting' of radioactive waste dumps -- the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced yet another public comment opportunity (see the DOE's last minute announcement, reproduced below, in italics).

DOE also published its draft summary of public comments (84 pages long), after 7pm Eastern on Sept. 14th, less than 24 hours before its meeting just scheduled two weeks earlier (only announced Sept. 1st), to take place in Washington, DC beginning at 2pm Eastern on Sept. 15th.

DOE has also published for the first time links to this year's public comments themselves, generated by such groups as Beyond Nuclear, NIRS, Public Citizen, Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Campaign, etc. As can be seen, the public comments have been high quality, and submitted in very large numbers (measured in the thousands, all told).

We must continue to hold DOE's feet to the fire, by submitting another flood of high quality public comments, making clear WE DO NOT CONSENT to DOE's parking lot dump plans, its Mobile Chernobyl plans, nor to U.S. House Republican plans to resurrect the cancelled Yucca Mountain, Nevada burial dump.

Nor do we consent to the ongoing risks associated with "wet" pool and dry cask storage of irradiated nuclear fuel at nuclear power plants -- and continue, after a decade and a half of doing so, to call for Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS), as well as the cessation of production of high-level radioactive waste (that is, we demand atomic reactors permanently shut down)!

Beyond Nuclear will release another round of sample talking points in the near future, as well as the addresses (online, snail mail, fax, etc.) to which to submit comments. You can use the sample talking points to fashion your own, for submission to DOE.

Here is DOE's announcement, including a link to the DOE draft summary report (on which it has requested further public comment by Oct. 30th):

Hello,

The draft report titled Designing a Consent-Based Siting Process: Summary of Public Input is now available on the Department of Energy consent-based siting website here.

To launch the consent-based siting effort, DOE issued an “Invitation for Public Comment to Inform the Design of a Consent-Based Siting Process for Nuclear Waste Storage and Disposal Facilities” in the Federal Register on December 23, 2015. The comment period was open through July 31, 2016.

Comments received throughout the Invitation for Public Comment and public meetings are summarized in a draft report, titled Designing a Consent-Based Siting Process: Summary of Public Input.  The draft report will be available for public comment for 45 days via a Federal Register Notice beginning September 15, 2016 and concluding on October 30, 2016.  In addition, public comments received on the December 23rd Invitation for Public Comment are now publically posted at here and comments received via regulations.gov are available at here.

Thank you to everyone who attended our public meetings, provided comments, and participated in this important first step. 

John Kotek

Acting Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy

U.S. Department of Energy

Thursday
Sep012016

U.S. Dept. of Energy's Public Meeting on September 15th in Washington DC [also viewable via Webinar]

On Sept. 1st, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sent out the following announcement:

Good Afternoon,

On Thursday, September 15th, 2016, the Department of Energy (DOE) will host a public meeting in Washington, DC to summarize feedback received as part of the December 23, 2015 Invitation for Public Comment and subsequent public meetings on consent-based siting.  The meeting will also provide an opportunity to discuss next steps in consent-based siting with participants.

DATE AND TIME: The meeting will take place on Thursday September 15, 2016 from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.  Department officials will be available to discuss consent-based siting during an informal open house 30 minutes before and after the formal meeting.

LOCATION: The meeting will be held at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Washington D.C. Convention Center at 900 10th St NW, Washington, DC 20001.  The entire meeting will be available live via Live Webstream Link

REGISTRATION: Registration is encouraged to assist with planning efforts. Registration Link

BACKGROUND AND AGENDA:  DOE is designing a consent-based siting process to establish an integrated waste management system to transport, store, and dispose of spent nuclear fuel and high level radioactive waste.  In a consent-based siting approach, DOE will work with communities, tribal governments and states across the country that express interest in hosting any of the facilities identified as part of an integrated waste management system.  As part of this process, the Department issued an Invitation for Public Comment in the Federal Register on December 23, 2015 and hosted eight public meetings across the United States in 2016 to seek input on the elements that should be considered in the development of a consent-based siting process.  This September 15, 2016 meeting will summarize feedback received and provide an opportunity to discuss next steps in consent-based siting For more information, and to view the agenda, please visit our website at energy.gov/consentbasedsiting.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Please send requests for further information to consentbasedsiting@hq.doe.gov.

We look forward to your participation and hope to see you in [sic] online or in Washington!

John Kotek

Acting Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy

U.S. Department of Energy

Monday
Aug222016

"Nuclear accident in New Mexico ranks among the costliest in U.S. history"

DOE photo of recovery operations after the radioactive barrel burst in WIPP's underground. Workers entering contaminated areas have had to wear triple layer haz mat suits, as well as respirators.As reported by Ralph Vartabedian in the Los Angeles Times, regarding the Valentine's Day, 2014 radioactivity release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP):

The early federal statements gave no hint that the blast had caused massive long-term damage to the dump, a facility crucial to the nuclear weapons cleanup program that spans the nation, or that it would jeopardize the Energy Department’s credibility in dealing with the tricky problem of radioactive waste.

But the explosion ranks among the costliest nuclear accidents in U.S. history, according to a Times analysis. The long-term  cost of the mishap could top $2 billion, an amount roughly in the range of the cleanup after the 1979 partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania.

Many months ago, the L.A. Times reported that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) had estimated the recovery costs for the WIPP barrel burst would be $500 million. The paper editorialized that the price tag could easily surpass a billion dollars, which it now reports has been clearly established.

The article quotes Don Hancock of Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC):

“There is no question the Energy Department has downplayed the significance of the accident,” said Don Hancock, who monitors the dump for the watchdog group Southwest Research and Information Center.

...Hancock suggested that the dump might never resume full operations.

“The facility was never designed to operate in a contaminated state,” he said. “It was supposed to open clean and stay clean, but now it will have to operate dirty. Nobody at the Energy Department wants to consider the potential that it isn't fixable.”

Thursday
Aug182016

Protect the Great Lakes march & rally, GLEA, Port Huron, MI, Sat., 8/20, noon to 5pm!

DO sign the petition: https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/stopthegreatlakesnucleardump.html. And, if you or folks you know are near enough Port Huron, please attend this second annual event! Please spread the word!Join us, Saturday, August 20,
2016 in Port Huron, Michigan!


Protect the Great Lakes Walk & Rally!
Celebrating grassroots efforts to keep
our Great Lakes clean!


The Walk begins at 12 Noon at the Flag Plaza under the Blue
Water Bridge
(Thomas Edison Parkway). The Walk will follow the
St. Clair River south to Prospect Place, turn west to Pine Grove Ave.,
then enter the park from Pine Grove Avenue.

We walk to raise awareness of the importance of protecting our water!

The Rally takes place from 1 to 5 PM at the Pine Grove Park in
Port Huron, 1204 Pine Grove Avenue, Port Huron, MI 48060.

Map to the International Flag Plaza posted here:
http://www.bluewaysofstclair.org/recreation.asp?ait=av&aid=957

Map to Pine Grove Park posted here:
https://www.mapquest.com/us/michigan/business-port-huron/pine-grove-park-304145455


Harold Watts, Local Woodland Metis member,
will offer a special smudging ceremony before our program.

We will have live music and welcome speakers from many
organizations, including:

LeeAnne Walters, the Mom from Flint who helped expose the Flint Water Crisis 

Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Specialist of Beyond Nuclear,
www.beyondnuclear.org/  

Jill Taylor, President of SOS - Great Lakes,
www.sosgreatlakes.org/

Joshua Radhs, Michigan Clean Up Our River Banks,
https://www.facebook.com/groups/MICUORB/

And speakers from other great groups!

We’ll also hear from Save Lake St. Clair, https://www.facebook.com/SaveLakeStClair/  and BikeLine5, www.biketheline.org/

Live Music from Little Big Band!

Contact Elizabeth Lloyd <2BethLloyd@gmail.com> for more information.


See the March/Rally flier here!