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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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Thursday
Oct302014

States, tribe, groups take NRC Nuke Waste Con Game back to court

Environmental coalition attorney Diane CurranThe States of New York, Vermont, and Connecticut have filed an appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, challenging the U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Nuclear Waste Confidence (renamed Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel) Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) and Rule. The Office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a press release, as did the Office of Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell.

As reported by Minnesota Public Radio, the Star Tribune, and the Post Bulletin, the Prairie Island Indian Community joined the states' lawsuit. In August, PIIC expressed its disappointment at NRC's decision to ignore the risks of on-site storage of high-level radioactive waste at Xcel Energy's Prairie Island nuclear power plant, located within hundreds of yards of the nearest tribal residents on the PIIC reservation, on an island in the Mississippi River prone to flooding.

World Nuclear News, Power Magazine, and the Brattleboro Reformer reported on the states' lawsuit.

A coalition of nine environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear, followed suit, filing a parallel lawsuit. Diane Curran (photo, above) of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg + Eisenberg, LLP, of Washington, DC, and Mindy Goldstein of Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University in Atlanta, serve as legal counsel for the coalition. (NRDC filed a separate, parallel lawsuit.) The Hill reported on the environmental coalition lawsuit, which alleges violations of both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as well as the Atomic Energy Act (AEA).

In June 2012, a three judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the states, tribe, and environmental coalition on NRC's Nuclear Waste Confidence policy. The court ordered NRC to carry out an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under NEPA. The current round of lawsuits alleges that NRC flouted the court order, given the shallowness, and worse, of the so-called EIS it carried out, which, among other transgresssions, ignored many thousands of public comments, including comprehensive analysis by expert witnesses working on behalf of the environmental coalition.

If the courts rule in favor of the states, tribe, and environmental coalition on the current round of challenges against NRC's Nuclear Waste Confidence/Continuted Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel policy, it could result in major delays in proposed new reactor licensing proceedings, as well as degraded old reactor license extension proceedings.

Beyond Nuclear provides organizational standing for the coalition, thanks to: its six-year-old intervention against the proposed new Fermi 3, MI reactor; its nearly four-year-old intervention against the Davis-Besse, OH, license extension; and its recently launched intervention against the Fermi 2, MI license extension. Michael Keegan of Monroe, MI is the Beyond Nuclear member providing our organization standing in these proceedings, due to his residence with 8 miles of Fermi, and within 50 miles of Davis-Besse. Toledo attorney Terry Lodge serves as legal counsel for Beyond Nuclear in all three proceedings.

Thursday
Oct162014

Return of the Yucca dump zombie?!

Political cartoon by Jim Day of the Las Vegas Review Journal (be sure to count the toes!)Despite hoots and hollers from nuclear industry lobbyists and their friends in Congress, the publication of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump  Safety Evaluation Report volume, entitled "Repository Safety After Permanent Closure," does not herald the dump's resurrection. To the contrary, the State of Nevada, its congressional delegation, and their powerful allies in the U.S. Senate -- backed by a thousand or so environmental groups across the country -- remain adamantly, and tirelessly, committed to preventing the still-cancelled, unfunded, scientifically unsuitable dump-site from ever opening. More.

Thursday
Oct092014

Cook County, Illinois Joins Call to Stop Proposed Nuclear Waste Dump beside the Great Lakes

Official seal of Cook County, IllinoisAs shared by Dave Kraft, Executive Director of Nuclear Energy Infomation Service in Chicago (Cook County), Illinois:

"We share this important good news that the Cook County Board unanimously passed a resolution in support of banning the construction of a low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste disposal facility on the shore of Lake Huron on the Bruce Peninsula in Canada.  Ontario Power Generation of Canada has proposed building such a facility near its Bruce nuclear generating station in Kincardine, Ontario.  The proposal has engendered the opposition of over a hundred municipalities on the Great Lakes, including the City of Toronto, and numerous First Nations tribal governments.  The Cook County Resolution was initiated by Commissioners Joan Patricia Murphy and Peter N. Silvestri; and supported by the entire Cook County Board.  The Resolution applies to any attempt to propose a radioactive waste disposal facility in the Great Lakes Basin, and was greeted enthusiastically by Stop The Great Lakes Nuclear Dump [STGLND], the citizens organization in Canada opposing construction of the Kincardine dump. [See the STGLND press release here.]  Recognizing that placement of a radioactive waste dump on the shores of the drinking water supply for over 40 million people is a bad idea, it can only be a matter of time before public officials acknowledge that 38 nuclear reactors on both sides of the border between the U.S. and Canada creating even more toxic, radioactive and long-lived "high-level" radioactive waste 24/7/365 is not such a good idea, either.  Our heartfelt thanks and congratulations to the Cook County Board for its courageous position."
As reported by STGLND on its website, Cook County's resolution joins 135 other village, town, city, county, and even state resolutions. Cook County's 5.2 million residents now means that these resolutions represent a total of 16.3 million Great Lakes residents, on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border.
In addition, over 70,000 individuals have signed STGLND's petition against the DGR. If you haven't signed yet, please do. And if you have, please spread the word to everyone you know to sign the petition too!
Thursday
Oct092014

Beyond Nuclear's closing remarks opposing Great Lakes radioactive waste dump

OPG's proposed Deep Geologic Repository would be located less than a mile from the waters of the Great Lakes, amidst the Bruce NGSBeyond Nuclear has submitted closing remarks opposing the radioactive waste dump (or "DGR," for Deep Geologic Repository) targeted at the Ontario shore of Lake Huron, thus meeting the deadline set by the Canadian federal Joint Review Panel (JRP) overseeing the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposal.

Beyond Nuclear has opposed the insane proposal since the organization was founded, in 2007, providing staff testimony twice, in person, in Kincardine, Ontario before the JRP, as well as numerous written submissions.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) proposes burying all of the province's so-called "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive wastes -- from 20 reactors -- on the Great Lakes shore. The proposed burial site is at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, itself one of the world's largest single nuclear power plants, with a total of nine reactors on site.

OPG's proposal has generated a groundswell of opposition throughout the Great Lakes Basin, on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border. The Great Lakes provide drinking water for 40 million people in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations. The Great Lakes comprise 95% of North America's, and 20% of the planet's, surface fresh water. They are the life blood of one of the world's largest regional economies.

The JRP will now prepare its EA conclusions in the near future, and report to the Canadian federal Environment Minister. She will then make a recommendation to Prime Minister Harper's Cabinet, bypassing Parliament.

As Beyond Nuclear concluded its closing remarks, Dave Martin of Greenpeace Canada dubbed OPG's DGR the DUD -- short for Deep Underground Dump, but also succinctly summing up the inanity and insanity of the proposal!

Thursday
Oct092014

Dr. Frank Greening's closing remarks to DGR JRP

Dr. Frank GreeningDr. Frank Greening, a scientist who worked at Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and its predecessor (Ontario Hydro) for decades, has submitted his closing comments to the Canadian federal Joint Review Panel (JRP) overseeing the Environmental Assessment (EA) on the proposed Deep Geologic Repository (DGR). Closing comments are due on October 9, 2014.

The DGR would be located at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station (NGS), on the shore of Lake Huron in Kincardine, Ontario, Canada. It would bury all of Ontario's so-called "low-level" and "intermediate-level" radioactive wastes (L&ILRWs), from 20 reactors across the province.

Dr. Greening, whose previous submissions to the JRP have revealed major underestimates by OPG and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) regarding such basic issues as the radioactivity content of the waste, has here focused on two mass-exposure accidents at OPG (and Ontario Hydro's) commercial nuclear facilities: 55 workers exposed to internal Carbon-14 contamination at Pickering NGS in March, 1985; and 557 workers exposed to internal alpha-particle contamination at Bruce NGS in November and December, 2009.

Greening argues that those accidents, as well as the February, 2014 radioactivity release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico, should serve as a serious warning against rushing ahead with this ill-considered DGR proposal.

Greening ends with this powerful conclusion:

What concerns me most about the proposed DGR is OPG’s level of ignorance about its size, about its radionuclide inventory, about how it will operate and about the potential for things to go horribly wrong through unexpected synergisms, as in the tragic Lac Mégantic disaster where a combination of relatively minor problems led to a major catastrophe. It is quite evident that OPG’s DGR proposal is based on only a pretense of knowledge of all possible risks within the proposed facility. As a result OPG ignores true uncertainty, as defined by U.S. economist F.H. Knight, which is something that is not susceptible to measurement and can never be eliminated from human endeavor. Or as J.M. Keynes eloquently described it: “... matters where there is no scientific basis on which to form any calculable probability whatever. We simply do not know.”

Therefore I strongly urge the JRP to reject OPG’s DGR proposal. We know so very little about the long-term safety of a DGR and the American experience with the WIPP facility shows why we should err on the side of caution before proceeding with such a venture. After all, it took only one bad waste container to spoil an entire DGR facility! And besides, it is evident that a lot more research and development is needed before DGR technology could be declared to be safe and reliable. But in the meantime, we certainly do not need the existing WWMF [Bruce NGS's Western Waste Management Facility] to become home to a deep underground nuclear waste disposal test-bed on the shores of Lake Huron. Only fools rush in where angels fear to tread....".