A Retreat for those who focus on High-Level Radioactive Waste
This 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dave Kraft (email@example.com) 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)
The 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).
A working outline of the program is available (LINK)
A GRASSROOTS SUMMIT:
Timed 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.
These values have formed the basis of our work for decades:
- It is essential that all communities dealing with High Level Radioactive Waste (both reactor and storage/disposal) work together.
- 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.
- 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.
- At the same time, keeping waste where it is for now, in reactor communities, must include upgrades for greater safety and security.
- 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.
What 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).