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.



Coalition of states, groups, and Native American tribe press appeal against NRC's false "Nuclear Waste Confidence"

The lethal legacy of the Atomic Age, and we don't even know what to do with the first cupful. It's time to stop making it!A coalition of states (Connecticut, New York, and Vermont), along with the Prairie Island Indian Community, and an alliance of nine environmental groups (Beyond Nuclear, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, New England Coalition, Nuclear Information & Resource Service, Riverkeeper, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and Sustainable Energy and Economic Development Coalition), plus Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) -- collectively, the Petitioners -- are pressing their appeals in federal court against the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) 2014 "Continued Spent Fuel Storage Rule" and its associated GEIS (Generic Environmental Impact Statement).

Geoffrey H. Fettus, Counsel for NRDC, and Diane Curran of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg, and Eisenberg, as well as Mindy Goldstein of Turner Environmental Law Clinic, Co-Counsel for Beyond Nuclear et al., filed their INITIAL OPENING BRIEF FOR PETITIONERS on June 29th with the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the second highest court in the land.

The State of Massachusetts has intervened on behalf of the Petitioners; the Nuclear Energy Institute, Entergy Nuclear, and Northern States Power have intervened on behalf of NRC; and the Sierra Club is participating as a Friend of the Court on behalf of the Petitioners.

The coalition of states and the Native American tribe has focused its appeal on NRC's violation of court orders in New York v. NRC (New York I, of 2012), by not carrying out an adequate analysis of the safety, health, and environmental risks of irradiated nuclear fuel storage pool fires and leaks.

The alliance of environmental groups has focused its appeal on NRC's violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as by not carrying out an adequate court-ordered analysis of the potential impacts if a permanent repository is never opened. The environmental coalition has also appealed NRC's violation of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA), by not making assurances that post-operations high-level radioactive waste storage in the short-term, long-term, and indefinitely forevermore, will be done safely.

The current appeals, dubbed New York v. NRC II, challenge numerous attempts by NRC to approve new reactor licenses, as well as old reactor license extensions, despite the still-unresolved legal issues. Examples include Beyond Nuclear's challenge against the Fermi 3 proposed new reactor in MI, and its challenge to the Davis-Besse license extension in OH. Toledo-based attorney Terry Lodge has represented Beyond Nuclear, and other environmental groups, in those interventions since 2009 and 2010, respectively.

On May 1, 2015, the NRC approved Fermi 3's COLA (combined Construction and Operation License Application), despite the unresolved Nuclear Waste Confidence issue. In addition, Beyond Nuclear and a coalition consisting of Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizen Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario (CEA), Don't Waste MI (DWM), and the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, plan to appeal quality assurance (QA) and transmission corridor issues. Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates, Inc. in Burlington, VT, serves as expert witness for the environmental coalition on QA issues. The NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board unsuccessfully requested permission to review NRC staff violations of NEPA vis a vis the transmission line corridor.

In recent months, the NRC ASLB panel overseeing the Davis-Besse license extension proceeding, at FirstEnergy Nuclear's request, has also moved to end the intervention, and toward ultimate NRC approval of the 2017-2037 extension. This, despite the environmental coalition's (including CEA, DWM, and Ohio Green Party) still unsolved contentions re: renewable energy alteratives to 20 more years at Davis-Besse, and the atomic reactor's severely cracked, and ever worsening, concrete containment shell.

Cynically and absurdly, NRC has flagrantly flouted the court orders stemming from New York v. NRC I. Rather than analyze the environmental impacts of further generation of forever deadly high-level radioactive waste at atomic reactors, NRC instead merely compared the efficiency of various administrative approaches towards completing the GEIS. NRC also changed the name of its now highly controversial "Nuclear Waste Confidence" policy, to "Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel." In doing so, NRC also ignored many thousands of oral and written public comments submitted by concerned citizens and environmental groups nationwide in 2013.

The Sierra Club will file its Friend of the Court brief in New York v. NRC II by July 6th. NRC's brief is due sometime in September. Petitioners' reply briefs to NRC's filing will be due sometime in November. Oral arguments will likely take place in 2016. Meanwhile, Petitioners have argued that final NRC licensing decisions, as at Fermi 3 and Davis-Besse, be held in abeyance, until New York v. NRC II is resolved.


Take action! Help stop Canada's proposed radioactive waste dump targeted at the Great Lakes shore!

OPG's radioactive waste dump would be located about 3/4ths of a mile from the waters of Lake Huron, unless we stop it!Check out Beyond Nuclear's action alert on things you can do to help stop Ontario Power Generation's proposed radioactive waste dump targeted at the Lake Huron shoreline.

For updates, and to learn more about this "fight of our lives," and for our lives, check out the entries below on Beyond Nuclear's "Canada" website section.

Another great place to learn more about this issue is at Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump's website.

Please take action today, to protect the drinking water supply for 40 million people in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations from the risk of radioactive contamination! The Great Lakes are 21% of the world's surface fresh water, and around 85% of North America's surface fresh water! The Great Lakes shoreline is the last place on Earth to bury radioactive wastes!


Despite adverse rulings at Fermi 3 & Davis-Besse, Beyond Nuclear vows to fight on against NRC's Nuke Waste Con Game

The lethal legacy of the Atomic Age, and we don't even know what to do with the first cupful. It's time to stop making it!In a June 9th MEMORANDUM AND ORDER, the four U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissioners (NRC; there is a vacancy on the five-member NRC Commission) unanimously ruled against Beyond Nuclear in a Nuclear Waste Confidence-related intervention at FirstEnergy's Davis-Besse atomic reactor on the Great Lakes shoreline in northwest Ohio. Beyond Nuclear has helped lead the intervention against Davis-Besse's proposed 20-year (2017-2037) license extension since 2010.

The NRC Commissioners cited their earlier ruling at the proposed new Fermi 3 reactor in southeast Michigan as the basis for the current Davis-Besse ruling. Beyond Nuclear is a lead intervenor against the Fermi 3 construction and operation license, as well.

The Davis-Besse and Fermi nuclear power plants are visible, one from the other, with the naked eye, across the waters of Lake Erie.

Terry Lodge serves as legal counsel for Beyond Nuclear et al. at both Fermi 3 and Davis-Besse. Attorneys Diane Curran of Washington, D.C. and Mindy Goldstein of Turner Environmental Law Clinic (Emory U., Atlanta) serve as Beyond Nuclear's legal counsel on pending Nuclear Waste Confidence federal court appleas in both proceedings.

Beyond Nuclear, and environmental allies in multiple additional proceedings (including Missouri Coalition for the Environment's challenge to the 20-year license extension at the Callaway atomic reactor), plan federal court appeals against NRC's dereliction of duty -- the agency's failure to protect public health, safety, and the environment against the risks of high-level radioactive waste -- and the associated violation of multiple federal laws (the Atomic Energy Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Administrative Procedures Act) by NRC's renamed Nuclear Waste Confidence policy (now called Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel).

In 2012, a three-judge panel for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered NRC to address three clear cut issues: the risk that a permanent geologic repository will never open in the U.S.; the risk of catastrophic radiological fires in irradiated nuclear fuel storage pools; and the risk of radioactivity leaks from pools.

A coalition of three dozen environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear, represented by Curran and Goldstein, and in alliance with Natural Resources Defense Council, several state Attorneys General (including NY and VT), and the Prairie Island Indian Community, brought the original legal challenge against NRC's Nuclear Waste Confidence policy, a case known as New York v. NRC.

Although NRC went through the motions of conducting the court-ordered Environmental Impact Statement, it largely to entirely avoided addressing the court's explicit questions. NRC had to ignore many thousands of public comments in order to do so. NRC's flagrant flouting of the court orders has set the stage for New York v. NRC II, including in the Callaway, Davis-Besse, and Fermi proceedings, as well as numerous others.

See Beyond Nuclear's pamphlet about high-level radioactive waste.


"Kirk Urges President to Halt Canadian Proposal to Store Nuclear Waste Near Great Lakes"

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (Republican-Illinois, photo left) has issued a press release, and the text of a letter he sent to President Obama, calling for administration action to protect the Great Lakes against Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) proposed "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive waste dump, targeted at the Lake Huron shoreline at Bruce Nuclear Generating Station.

Sen. Kirk stated: “As co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, I am fighting to keep our lakes free from toxins that could harm our precious ecological system and threaten the drinking water source for more than 30 million Americans. Storing nuclear waste underground along the shores of the Great Lakes directly jeopardizes the wellbeing of this shared natural resource, and I urge the President to work with the Canadian Government to postpone this decision and protect our lakes for generations to come.”

In 2011, and again in 2013, Sen. Kirk sent letters of concern to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. Last year, and again this year, Sen. Kirk has introduced resolutions of disapproval for the site.

In his letter to President Obama, Sen. Kirk stated: "This matter presents an immediate threat to all the Great Lakes, and I ask you to use all diplomatic means available to urge the Canadian government to delay its decision-making process until the proposal has been given all due consideration by the [International Joint Commission."

Sen. Kirk warned: "As a permanent repository, the Kincardine, Ontario facility would hold 7 million cubic feet of nuclear waste for thousands of years. Any leak during that time could unleash toxic material throughout the Great Lakes Basin, and contaminate the largest surface freshwater system in the world while causing irreparable damage to the more than 3,500 plants and animals that inhabit the ecosystem."

More information about Canada's Great Lakes shore radioactive waste dump is posted under Beyond Nuclear's Canada website section.


Help stop dangerous radioactive waste dumps! Contact Congress and the White House today!

The lethal legcy of radioactive waste has mounted since 1942, and we don't even know what to do with the first cupful. It's time to stop making it!Radioactive waste wars have been declared, yet again, by the nuclear power industry and its friends in high places.

In the U.S., House Republicans hope to revive the Yucca Mountain dump for high-level radioactive waste, despite Nevada's long-standing objections. Yucca is not only geologically unsuitable, and would leak massively if ever opened, but it is also Western Shoshone Indian land, and they don't want the dump!

Senate Republicans will likely make their own move to resurrect the Yucca dump via an amendment on the Senate floor. See Beyond Nuclear's Yucca Mountain website section for recent updates.

In Canada, the federal Environment Minister will act by September 6th -- but could act at any time -- on the recommendation by the federal Joint Review Panel to approve the environmental assessment, and go forward with licensing the construction and operation of Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) proposed "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive waste dump on the Great Lakes shoreline. See Beyond Nuclear's Canada website section for recent updates.

Please contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative right away. (You can get patched through to your Senators' and Representative's offices via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121; fax numbers and postal addresses, as well as web forms, can be found at each of your Congress Members' websites, via the links above.)

Urge your Members of Congress to oppose the Yucca Mountain dump's revival, as included in the U.S. House Energy and Water Appropriations bill, and likely to be introduced as an amendment to the U.S. Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill.

Also urge your Congress Members to co-sponsor bipartisan resolutions opposing OPG's Great Lakes shore radioactive waste dump. (In the House, the resolution is H. Res. 194; in the Senate, the resolution is S. Res. 134. See the list of current co-sponsors, below.)

Please also contact President Obama at the White House. Thank him for his long-standing, strong opposition to the Yucca dump, and urge him to continue to stand strong against congressional Republican efforts to revive the cancelled project. Also urge President Obama to take action to stop Canada's Great Lakes shoreline radioactive waste dump, before it's too late, in order to protect the drinking water supply for tens of millions of people on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes, in eight U.S. states (from west to east: MN, WI, IL, IN, MI, OH, PA, NY).

Current co-sponsors of the congressional resolutions opposing Canada's Great Lakes shoreline radioactive waste dump:

U.S. Rep. Kildee (D-MI) has taken the lead in the U.S. House with H. Res. 194, and has been joined by the following 19 co-sponsors: Benishek (R-MI); Bishop (R-MI); Conyers (D-MI); Dingell (D-MI); Dold (R-IL); Duckworth (D-IL); Duffy (R-WI); Fudge (D-OH); Gibson (R-NY); Higgins (D-NY); Joyce (R-OH); Kaptur (D-OH); Lawrence (D-MI); Levin (D-MI); Miller (R-MI); Moolenaar (R-MI); Renacci (R-OH); Schakowsky (D-IL); Slaughter (D-NY); and Trott (R-MI).

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has taken the lead in the U.S. Senate on S. Res. 134, and has been joined by the following four co-sponsors: Baldwin (D-WI); Durbin (D-IL); Kirk (R-IL); and Peters (D-MI).