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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
Dec122013

Senate Mobile Chernobyl/Parking Lot Dump bill delayed, but vigilance still needed!

The Mobile Chernobyl mock nuke waste cask, a full size replica of a truck shipping container, shown in front of the State Capitol in Jefferson City, MO during a cross-country educational tourAs reported by Hannah Northey of E&E on Nov. 22nd ("Senate panel to take up repository bill next month"), U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the Chair and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee, had threatened to bring S. 1240, the so-called "Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013," up for a committee vote in December 2013. Dec. 19th was floated as a date for a committee mark up. But in recent days, it has become known that any action has been postponed into next year.

However, vigilance is still required. Thanks to all of you who have contacted your U.S. Senators to express opposition to S. 1240, the "Nuclear Waste Administration Act." If you haven't contacted your two U.S. Senators yet, please do so now. You can call them via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

If you have contacted your U.S. Senators already, thank you! But there is more you can do. Please continue to let them know you oppose this bill, and urge everyone you know to do the same.

Check to see if your U.S. Senator is on the ENR Committee. If so, consider organizing your friends and colleagues, and request to meet with your Senator during their holiday break back home. Your meeting with them could make a huge difference on their vote re: S. 1240! If a meeting with your Senator is refused, follow up with a request to meet with your Senator's staff on this issue.

If neither of your Senators serve on the ENR Committee, you can still urge them to contact their colleagues who do. Your Senators should urge their Senate colleagues on the ENR Committee to vote against S. 1240, in order to protect the interests of constituents in your state, including yourself!

See below for more background information.

BACKGROUND

Along with Wyden and Murkowski, U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the Chair and Ranking Member on the Senate Subcommittee on Energy and Water Appropriations, are co-sponsors of S. 1240. Critics have dubbed the "Gang of 4" U.S. Senators' proposed legislation the "Mobile Chernobyl/Parking Lot Dump" bill. It would represent a huge giveaway to the already filthy rich nuclear power industry, and coup for its lobbyists, if they get away with the radiologically-risky, multi-billion dollar boondoggle.

Beyond Nuclear provided extensive background on the dangerous bill last June, when it was first introduced. Despite calling for public comments on their draft legislation, the "Gang of 4" effectively ignored environmental and public interest concerns registered by the thousands. Shamefully, the bill, as introduced, was actually significantly worse than the initial "discussion draft," an indication of nuclear lobbyists' shady "ways and means" behind closed doors on Capitol Hill!

S. 1240 further revved its engines on July 30th, at an ENR Committee hearing.

It is urgent that you contact your two U.S. Senators, and urge that they put the brakes on this "Mobile Chernobyl/Parking Lot Dump" bill, and stop it dead in its tracks. They can be contacted via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

If enacted, it would launch large numbers of risky high-level radioactive waste trucks, trains, and/or barges. The unprecedented shipping campaign would accomplish exactly nothing in terms of protecting public health, safety, and the environment. Quite to the contrary, it would bring high-level radioactive waste, in shipping containers vulnerable to severe accidents or terrorist attacks, through the heart of major metropolitan areas, such as Chicago. For more information on high-level radioactive waste transport risks, see NIRS's "Mobile Chernobyl/Fukushima Freeways" website section (such as the HLRW barges on waterways -- the Great Lakes, rivers, sea coasts -- sub-section, dated Sept. 28, 2004, which could now be dubbed "Floating Fukushimas"!).

Scores of environmental groups across the country have consistently opposed centralized interim storage, "de-linked" from progress on a permanent deep geological repository, for just such reasons, for a long time. It clearly risks the "temporary" parking lot dumps becoming de facto permanent, if and when the next deep geological repository is cancelled, just as the Yucca Mountain dump was (wisely so, given the geological unsuitability of the Nevada site, the environmental injustice of dumping high-level radioactive waste on Western Shoshone Indian treaty lands, etc.).

S. 1240 would create a radioactive waste shell game on the roads, rails, and waterways of many/most states, all in an effort to remove a major liability, cost, and PR headache from nuclear utilities' ledgers, and transfer them squarely onto the backs of U.S. taxpayers.

The recent federal court decision, ending DOE's collection of the meager 1/10th of a cent per kilowatt-hour fee on nuclear electricity ratepayers' bills, means that once the money currently remaining in the Nuclear Waste Fund is spent, there will be no more. Thus, those costs will eventually fall entirely on federal taxpayers. These costs could easily mount into the tens, and even hundreds, of billions of dollars over time. No other industry, besides nuclear power, enjoys such public subsidies.

The bill seeks to open a "pilot consolidated interim storage site" by 2021. HLRW from "orphaned" or "stranded" sites -- permanently closed atomic reactors -- would be given priority in the shipping queue. The supposed justification for this is to return decommissioned nuclear power plant sites to productive, economic use. This ignores the fact that those sites are still radioactively contaminated, despite so-called "clean up." It also ignores community groups who oppose the immoral idea of dumping their community's problems onto someone else.

The top targets for the "pilot" parking lot dump include: already contaminated and/or radiologically-burdened U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sites, such as Savannah River Site (SRS), SC; Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), NM; and Idaho National Lab (INL); Native American lands, such as the tiny Skull Valley Goshutes Indian Reservation in UT, or a number of unnamed reservations which the Nuclear Energy Institute has claimed, for several years, to be in secretive negotiations with; and/or operating nuclear power plant sites, such as the co-located Exelon Dresden nuclear power plant/GE-Hitachi independent spent fuel storage pool, just southwest of Chicago, already "home" to 3,000 metric tons of high-level radioactive waste.

The bill largely guts any notion of "consent-based" siting, by allowing for potential interim storage sites to be characterized, and even declared suitable, before "consent" is even sought from the community. The momentum already built, coupled with lucrative, promised incentives, would make it very difficult for communities of color, or those in dire economic straits, to resist. The nuclear power establishment in industry and government has repeatedly violated environmental justice in this way for decades, and appears poised to do so yet again!

S. 1240 also expresses a preference that the "pilot" interim storage site become the full-scale interim storage site by 2025, and even then the permanent deep geologic repository (DGR, or dumpsite) by 2048. No limit to how much HLRW could be rushed to the interim storage site(s), nor how much HLRW could be dumped at the first DGR, could mean that a single site would become the "nuclear sacrifice area" for the entire country, as was previously attempted at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. In fact, there are no safeguards in the legislation that would protect Yucca from again being targeted. And, a supposedly "interim storage" site appears all-too-likely to become a de facto permanent "disposal" site, whether that be by abandonment on the surface, or burial underground. This risk is made all the worse by the bill's lack of a requirement for any progress on permanent disposal during the first 10 years of interim storage facility operations.

What S. 1240 also does not call for is Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS), which is what hundreds of environmental and public interest groups representing all 50 states have called for, time and time again, for well over a decade now. In addition, more and more groups are saying "STOP MAKING IT!", as at the recent U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) nuke waste con game public comment meetings around the country.

To the contrary, Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) has attempted to justify her legislative proposals as essential for paving the way for SMRs (so-called Small Modular Reactors) to be built in the U.S. (to the tune of billions of dollars of federal taxpayer expense, in the form of RDD -- research, development, and demonstration -- subsidies, the subcommittee chair for such appropriations forgot to mention).

As reported by Beyond Nuclear on Jan. 16, 2013:

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chair of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, has praised the Obama administration's call for centralized interim storage. Revealingly, she expressed her support in the context of a pro-nuclear expansion agenda: "Delaying the creation of a long-term policy on nuclear waste would simply make the problems more complex and dangerous -- particularly with the development of a generation of new small modular reactors." (emphasis added)

In fact, so too did President Obama's Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future. If the name of the commission wasn't bad enough, its behavior, beginning in 2010, and final report in 2012, made clear that the top priority for "solving the high-level radioactive waste problem" was to pave the way for a nuclear power expansion. Despite claiming to be open and welcoming of public input, the Blue Ribbon Commission summarily ignored the thousands of public comments submitted over its two year existence. While the Blue Ribbon Commission was forced to listen to oral comments made at its numerous meetings around the country, it was later learned that written comments had not even been read before the BRC submitted its final report to Congress. Even worse, the website archive of those written comments, and even the transcripts and recordings of the public meetings themselves, became inaccessible on the BRC's abandoned website, making all that hard-won information unobtainable by the public. The BRC website was restored when the problem was called to DOE's attention by environmental watchdogs, but under the telling name "Cyber Cemetery."

The Senate ENR Committee has behaved similarly. In early 2013, it called for public input on its "Discussion Draft" of S. 1240. 2,500 comments were submitted, including by Beyond Nuclear, but were summarily ignored. The final draft of S. 1240 was worse than the discussion draft! Further changes for the worse can be expected in S. 1240, due to the corrupting influence of nuclear industry lobbyists and their campaign contributions.

Thursday
Dec122013

NRC nuke waste con game: final written public comment submissions re: DGEIS due 12/20!

Environmental coalition members from the Crabshell Alliance, Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Campaign, NIRS, PSR, NEIS, and Public Citizen "just say NO!" at the NRC HQ nuke waste con game public comment meeting on 11/14 in Rockville, MD. Photo credit David Martin and Erica Grey.

Thanks to all who submitted oral comments to NRC at the call-in on 12/9, the final public meeting re: NRC's bogus nuke waste con game Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS).

Please continue to submit your public comments to NRC via email, webform, fax, and/or snail mail. You can submit as many public comments as you want, between now and the final public comment deadline (Friday, Dec. 20th).

Sample comments, which you can use to help you write your own, have been provided by Beyond Nuclear and NIRS, as well as NEIS.

Additional ideas for public comments can be found in the reports back from the field hearings, below. Key comments that need to be made again and again: It's time to stop making high-level radioactive waste! For that which already exists, the environmental consensus is to empty the pools into hardened on-site storage, where appropriate -- requiring a significant upgrade in dry cask storage safety, security, and environmental protection.

Please note that on Thurs., Dec. 19th at 11 AM Eastern, Diane Curran and Mark Cooper, attorney and expert witness, respectively, representing a coalition of dozens of environmental groups, will hold a press conference entitled: EXPERT TO TELL NRC THAT HIDDEN COSTS OF REACTOR WASTE STORAGE & DISPOSAL MAKES NUCLEAR POWER LESS ATTRACTIVE THAN WIND, SOLAR, AND MORE ENERGY EFFICIENCY; Do High Costs of Nuclear Now Make Licensing and Re-Licensing Indefensible in Terms of the Economics?; Comments to NRC From Economist Mark Cooper State Federal Agency Must Consider Full Cost of Nuclear Waste Storage and Disposal.  Cooper serves at the Vermont Law School. Curran serves at Harmon Curran Speilberg + Eisenberg LLP in Washington, D.C. See the Hastings Group's press advisory, with instructions on how to listen-in to the press conference, either live in real time, or to the audio recording afterwards. The Hastings Group has also issued a press release. 

BACKGROUND:

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Nuclear Waste Confidence Directorate has concluded all of its scheduled public comment meetings on the draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) regarding the agency's "Nuclear Waste Confidence." However, there is still the opportunity to submit written comments at any time up till December 20th.

The GEIS was court-ordered, by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, in June 2012. A coalition of environmental groups (Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Riverkeeper, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, as well as Natural Resources Defense Council) and states (CT, NJ, NY, and VT, as represented by their attorneys general) won the court victory. We owe them all a huge debt for this tremendous environmental victory, which has effectively blocked any finalization of old reactor license extensions, or the granting of new reactor construction and operating licenses, by NRC until it completes the GEIS.

ACCESS TO E-COMMENTS SUBMITTED TO NRC:

Over 700 public comments (both pro- and con-"Waste Confidence") are accessible for viewing via www.regulations.com.

REPORTS BACK FROM PUBLIC COMMENT MEETINGS:

Rockville, MD NRC HQ call-in public comment meeting, Dec. 9th (see NRC's transcript, including Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear's testimony at transcript pages 30-34, and again at transcript pages 60-62).

Minnetonka, MN public comment meeting, Dec. 4th

Thanks to John LaForge of Nukewatch Wisconsin for providing this write-up on this meeting.

Severe weather made for a small turn out, so we are very thankful to those brave few who defied the elements to speak truth to power!

"Mr. Burns" hands out chunks of radioactive waste to the public. Photo by Kathy Barnes of Don't Waste MI.Perrysburg, OH public comment meeting, Dec. 2nd

Note that the 12/2 meeting in Toledo marked the 71st year since Enrico Fermi first split the atom in a prototype reactor core, generating the world's first high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) on Dec. 2, 1942, as part of the Manhattan Project. Thus, the mountain of radioactive waste is now 71 years high, and we still don't even know what to do with the first cupful!

Kevin made that point, and others site-specific to Great Lakes reactors, including Palisades in MI and Davis-Besse near Perrysburg, from minute 3:00 to 8:37 on a video recording of the public meeting, filmed by Kathy Barnes of Don't Waste MI (Part 4). Kathy also coordinates the Don't Waste MI Facebook page.

(See the NRC transcript of the meeting, including Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear's comments from pages 41 to 45 of the transcript.)

Kathy's videorecording also captured the street theater before the meeting (Part 1), as well as the public comments themselves (Part 2; Part 3; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9).

Kathy's still photo (to the left) shows "Mr. Burns" handing out "chunks of radioactive waste" (Atomic Fireball candies) to the public. "Mr. Burns" thanked the public for being such suckers, as the nuclear industry laughed all the way to the bank. He also advised them to quickly encase their chunks of radioactive waste in lead lined boxes, or else they'd be dead in three minutes from gamma radiation exposure. The skit was cooked up in Oak Brook, IL, to counter the Nuclear Energy Institute's handing out of fake uranium pellets, while failing to mention that irradiated uranium fuel pellets are deadly forevermore. The theme of the street theater was "The Emperor's New Clothes." Mr. Burns' wore an x-ray version, inspired by Russell Hoffman's "The Demon HOt Atom" graphic, showing where radioactive poisons lodge, and do their damage, in the human body.

Critics and skeptics of NRC's "Nuclear Waste Confidence" outnumbered supporters and apologists by a count of 35 to 9 -- that is a ration of nearly 4 to 1!

Tom Henry of the Toledo Blade reported on this story.

Evan Davis, host of the radio program "Conscious Voices" at WCRS, community radio in Columbus, OH (102.1/98.3 FM), also reported on this story. His hour-long radio report, entitled "NRC proposes rule change to allow indefinite waste storage," begins with 10 minutes of introduction, progressive event announcements in the listening area, and a special report on coal issues. Then, from the 11:15 to 29:15 minute mark, Lee Blackburn with the Ohio Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Committee discusses NRC's "Nuclear Waste Confidence," followed by Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear from 30:15 to 48:20. The rest of the show features three public comments made at the meeting, by Vic Macks of southeastern MI, Bob Parker of Cleveland, and Mr. Kelly Farris of Put-In-Bay, OH.

Re: the 12/2 Toledo-area meeting, Michael Keegan of Don't Waste MI and the Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes put out a press advisory. Its headline was RALLY AGAINST NUCLEAR WASTE CONFIDENCE GAME: ‘THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES.’

The co-chairs of the Alliance to Halt Fermi 3, Keith Gunter and Carol Izant, also issued a press advisory announcing that representatives from their growing coalition of groups would speak at the 12/2 Perrysburg, OH meeting.

San Luis Obispo, CA, public comment meeting, Nov. 20th

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace also provided sample comments in advance of its NRC nuke waste con game public comment meeting, held on 11/20.

Rockville, MD public comment meeting, Nov. 14th

At the Nov. 14th Rockville, MD NRC HQ public comment meeting, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps joined with numerous colleagues (see photo, above left) to testify.

In the short three minutes allotted for public comment, Kevin set the record straight on false statements the NRC has made in regards to its nuke waste con game policy.

At the Chicago public meeting on Nov. 12th, NRC Nuclear Waste Confidence Directorate Director, Keith McConnell, responded to a question from the audience about the scope of this draft GEIS. McConnell said that it had to do with "on-site" or "at-reactor" storage of irradiated nuclear fuel. Kevin set the record straight, pointing out that there is an entire section of the GEIS document, Chapter 5, about "Environmental Impacts of Away-From-Reactor Storage." This implies high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) transportation as well, a very significant issue that has gotten very short shrift in this draft GEIS.

And of course, the heart of NRC's "Nuclear Waste Confidence" for 30 years now has been the assumption that a deep geologic repository will open someday, somewhere, somehow. The courts, however, have ordered NRC to consider the all-too-real possibility that a repository will never open, leaving HLRW risks at-reactor or away-from-reactor (as at so-called "consolidated" or "centralized interim storage" sites -- parking lot dumps -- the opening of which, by 2021, is a top priority of the Wyden-Feinstein-Murkowski-Alexander "Mobile Chernobyl" bill, S. 1240, in the U.S. Senate, now set for a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee vote in December 2013).

See the transcript from the meeting, including Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear's remarks from page 102-107.

Oak Brook, IL public comment meeting, Nov. 12th

See a write-up of the Chicago NRC nuke waste con game, for more ideas on potential comments you can make. See the transcript from this public comment meeting, including Kevin Kamps from Beyond Nuclear's remarks at transcript pages 50 to 54.

Tarrytown, NY public comment meeting, Oct. 30th

Marilyn Elie of Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC) provided Beyond Nuclear with the written statements by IPSEC members, NY AG Schneiderman, and others, from the Oct. 30th NRC public comment mtg. in Tarrytown, NY near Entergy's Indian Point nuclear power plant. Beyond Nuclear has posted these, so you can use them to help prepare your own.

Douglas P. Guarino, the award-winning reporter, wrote an article entitled "Legal Battle Against Rule Crucial To All U.S. Reactor Licenses Rages On" for Global Security Newswire. He quote Janice Dean, Assistant Attorney General of the State of New York, who testified at the Tarrytown, NY meeting.

NRC HQ public comment meeting, Rockville, MD, Oct. 1, 2013:

See the transcript of the meeting, including Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear's testimony at pages 37-41 of the transcript.

NRC video recordings and transcripts from public comment meetings (Oct. 1 to Dec. 9)

Please note that NRC's Nuclear Waste Confidence Directorate has posted the archived webcast, as well as the audio recording, from the very first public comment meeting on Oct. 1 at NRC HQ in Rockville, MD; it has also posted the transcripts from all the public comment meetings held around the country; and it has posted the audio recording from the call-in public comment meeting on Dec. 9th. You can use the presentations made by hundreds of environmentalists and public interest advocates in these sessions to help you prepare your own comments.

Oct. 2nd Curran/Thompson/Alvarez press conference on the catastrophic risks of high-level radioactive waste pool fires

At a press conference on Oct. 2nd, D.C. attorney Diane Curran, and experts Dr. Gordon Thompson (President of Institute for Resource and Security Studies) and Bob Alvarez (Senior Scholar, Institute for Policy Studies), also provided insights into the potentially catastrophic risks of high-level radioactive waste storage pool fires, which NRC is currently ignoring, despite an explicit court order for NRC to address them in the EIS.

Curran, along with Mindy Goldstein of Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University, are working with a team of experts, including Dave Lochbaum of Union of Concerned Scientists, and Arjun Makhijani of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, to prepare comments, on behalf of an environmental coalition comprised of two dozen groups, including Beyond Nuclear, to be submitted by the 12/20 deadline.

Saturday
Dec072013

One oral comment opportunity (call-in only) left on NRC's nuke waste con game DGEIS, Mon., 12/9; final written submissions due by 12/20

Environmental coalition members from the Crabshell Alliance, Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Campaign, NIRS, PSR, NEIS, and Public Citizen "just say NO!" at the NRC HQ nuke waste con game public comment meeting on 11/14 in Rockville, MD. Photo credit David Martin and Erica Grey.

From 1 to 4 PM Eastern on Monday, Dec. 9th is the last opportunity to submit oral comments to NRC -- via a call-in teleconference -- re: its "Nuclear Waste Confidence" draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement. Here is how to join the call: Prior to the start of the meeting, please dial
1-888-603-9749
and provide the operator with passcode 5132332.

Please continue to submit your public comments to NRC via email, webform, fax, and/or snail mail. You can submit as many public comments as you want, between now and the final public comment deadline (Friday, Dec. 20th).

Sample comments, which you can use to help you write your own, have been provided by Beyond Nuclear, NIRS, NEIS, and many others.

For additional background, including reports back from the public comment meetings across the country, click here.

Wednesday
Dec042013

Sens. Wyden & Murkowski threaten ENR Committee vote on "Mobile Chernobyl/Parking Lot Dump" bill this month

The Mobile Chernobyl mock nuke waste cask, a full size replica of a truck shipping container, shown in front of the State Capitol in Jefferson City, MO during a cross-country educational tourAs reported by Hannah Northey of E&E on Nov. 22nd ("Senate panel to take up repository bill next month"), U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the Chair and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee, two weeks ago threatened to bring S. 1240, the so-called "Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013," up for a committee vote in December 2013.

U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the Chair and Ranking Member on the Senate Subcommittee on Energy and Water Appropriations, are co-sponsors. Critics have dubbed the "Gang of 4" U.S. Senators' proposed legislation the "Mobile Chernobyl/Parking Lot Dump" bill. It would represent a huge early Christmas present for the nuclear power industry, and coup for its lobbyists, if they get away with the radiologically-risky, multi-billion dollar boondoggle.

Beyond Nuclear provided extensive background on the dangerous bill last June, when it was first introduced. Despite calling for public comments on their draft legislation, the "Gang of 4" effectively ignored environmental and public interest concerns registered by the thousands. Shamefully, the bill, as introduced, was actually significantly worse than the initial "discussion draft," an indication of nuclear lobbyists' shady "ways and means" behind closed doors on Capitol Hill!

S. 1240 further revved its engines on July 30th, at an ENR Committee hearing.

It is urgent that you contact your two U.S. Senators, and urge that they put the brakes on this "Mobile Chernobyl/Parking Lot Dump" bill, and stop it dead in its tracks. They can be contacted via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

If enacted, it would launch large numbers of risky high-level radioactive waste trucks, trains, and/or barges. The unprecedented shipping campaign would accomplish exactly nothing in terms of protecting public health, safety, and the environment. Quite to the contrary, it would bring high-level radioactive waste, in shipping containers vulnerable to severe accidents or terrorist attacks, through the heart of major metropolitan areas, such as Chicago.

Scores of environmental groups across the country have consistently opposed centralized interim storage, "de-linked" from progress on a permanent deep geological repository, for just such reasons, for a long time.

S. 1240 would create a radioactive waste shell game on the roads, rails, and waterways of many/most states, all in an effort to remove a major liability, cost, and PR headache from nuclear utilities' ledgers, and transfer them squarely onto the backs of U.S. taxpayers.

The federal court decision week before last, ending DOE's collection of the meager 1/10th of a cent per kilowatt-hour fee on nuclear electricity ratepayers' bills, means that once the money currently remaining in the Nuclear Waste Fund is spent, there will be no more. Thus, those costs will eventually fall entirely on federal taxpayers.

The bill seeks to open a "pilot consolidated interim storage site" by 2021. HLRW from "orphaned" or "stranded" sites -- permanently closed atomic reactors -- would be given priority in the shipping queue. The supposed justification for this is to return decommissioned nuclear power plant sites to productive, economic use. This ignores the fact that those sites are still radioactively contaminated, despite so-called "clean up." It also ignores community groups who oppose the immoral idea of dumping their community's problems onto someone else.

The top targets for the "pilot" parking lot dump include: already contaminated and/or radiologically-burdened U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sites, such as Savannah River Site (SRS), SC; Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), NM; and Idaho National Lab (INL); Native American lands, such as the tiny Skull Valley Goshutes Indian Reservation in UT, or a number of unnamed reservations which the Nuclear Energy Institute has claimed, for several years, to be in secretive negotiations with; and/or operating nuclear power plant sites, such as the co-located Exelon Dresden nuclear power plant/GE-Hitachi independent spent fuel storage pool, just southwest of Chicago, already "home" to 3,000 metric tons of high-level radioactive waste.

The bill largely guts any notion of "consent-based" siting, by allowing for potential interim storage sites to be characterized, and even declared suitable, before "consent" is even sought from the community. The momentum already built, coupled with lucrative, promised incentives, would make it very difficult for communities of color, or those in dire economic straits, to resist. The nuclear power establishment in industry and government has repeatedly violated environmental justice in this way for decades, and appears poised to do so yet again!

S. 1240 also expresses a preference that the "pilot" interim storage site become the full-scale interim storage site by 2025, and even then the permanent deep geologic repository (DGR, or dumpsite) by 2048. No limit to how much HLRW could be rushed to the interim storage site(s), nor how much HLRW could be dumped at the first DGR, could mean that a single site would become the "nuclear sacrifice area" for the entire country, as was previously attempted at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. In fact, there are no safeguards in the legislation that would protect Yucca from again being targeted. And, a supposedly "interim storage" site appears all-too-likely to become a de facto permanent "disposal" site, whether that be by abandonment on the surface, or burial underground. This risk is made all the worse by the bill's lack of a requirement for any progress on permanent disposal during the first 10 years of interim storage facility operations.

What S. 1240 also does not call for is Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS), which is what hundreds of environmental and public interest groups representing all 50 states have called for, time and time again, for well over a decade now. In addition, more and more groups are saying "STOP MAKING IT!", as at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) nuke waste con game public comment meetings around the country.

To the contrary, Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) has attempted to justify her legislative proposals as essential for paving the way for SMRs (so-called Small Modular Reactors) to be built in the U.S. (to the tune of billions of dollars of federal taxpayer expense, in the form of RDD -- research, development, and demonstration -- subsidies, the subcommittee chair for such appropriations forgot to mention).

As reported by Beyond Nuclear on Jan. 16, 2013:

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chair of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, has praised the Obama administration's call for centralized interim storage. Revealingly, she expressed her support in the context of a pro-nuclear expansion agenda: "Delaying the creation of a long-term policy on nuclear waste would simply make the problems more complex and dangerous -- particularly with the development of a generation of new small modular reactors." (emphasis added)

Wednesday
Dec042013

Only one NRC nuke waste con game hearing left: call-in 12/9; final written comment submissions due 12/20!

Environmental coalition members from the Crabshell Alliance, Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Campaign, NIRS, PSR, NEIS, and Public Citizen "just say NO!" at the NRC HQ nuke waste con game public comment meeting on 11/14 in Rockville, MD. Photo credit David Martin and Erica Grey.

From 1 to 4 PM Eastern on Monday, Dec. 9th is the last opportunity to submit oral comments to NRC -- via a call-in teleconference -- re: its "Nuclear Waste Confidence" draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement. Here is how to join the call: Prior to the start of the meeting, please dial
1-888-603-9749
and provide the operator with passcode 5132332.

Please continue to submit your public comments to NRC via email, webform, fax, and/or snail mail. You can submit as many public comments as you want, between now and the final public comment deadline (Friday, Dec. 20th).

Sample comments, which you can use to help you write your own, have been provided by Beyond Nuclear and NIRS, as well as NEIS.

Last remaining opportunity to submit oral public comments, Monday, Dec. 9th, 1 to 4 PM Eastern, call-in only

If you plan to attend and make oral testimony at the remaining NRC public comment meeting (call-in only), NRC requests that you pre-register.

Here is the one remaining public comment meeting yet to come, a call-in teleconference opportunity to submit oral comments:



Monday,
December 9,

1 to 4 PM Eastern

Public Teleconference to Receive Comments on Waste Confidence DGEIS and Proposed Rule
(Teleconference only – facilitated and transcribed.)

Prior to the start of the meeting, please dial
1-888-603-9749
and provide the operator with passcode 5132332

 

BACKGROUND:

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Nuclear Waste Confidence Directorate has concluded most of its scheduled public comment meetings on the draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) regarding the agency's "Nuclear Waste Confidence." However, there are still a few opportunities left to make in-person or via-telephone oral comments! You can also make written comments at any time up till December 20th.

The GEIS was court-ordered, by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, in June 2012. A coalition of environmental groups (Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Riverkeeper, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, as well as Natural Resources Defense Council) and states (CT, NJ, NY, VT, as represented by their attorneys general) won the court victory.

With its holding of 12/2 meeting in OH and the 12/4 meeting in MN, the NRC has concluded its field public meetings across the country. However, oral public comments can be submitted, in-person only, at one last call-in meeting: on 12/9, you can submit oral comments to NRC via a phone-in public comment session. Please see above for the details on how to plug in.

REPORTS BACK FROM PUBLIC COMMENT MEETINGS:

Minnetonka, MN public comment meeting, Dec. 4th

Thanks to John LaForge of Nukewatch Wisconsin for providing this write-up on this meeting.

"Mr. Burns" hands out chunks of radioactive waste to the public. Photo by Kathy Barnes of Don't Waste MI.Perrysburg, OH public comment meeting, Dec. 2nd

Note that the 12/2 meeting in Toledo marked the 71st year since Enrico Fermi first split the atom in a prototype reactor core, generating the world's first high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) on Dec. 2, 1942, as part of the Manhattan Project. Thus, the mountain of radioactive waste is now 71 years high, and we still don't even know what to do with the first cupful!

Kevin made that point, and others site-specific to Great Lakes reactors, including Palisades in MI and Davis-Besse near Perrysburg, from minute 3:00 to 8:37 on a video recording of the public meeting, filmed by Kathy Barnes of Don't Waste MI (Part 4). Kathy also coordinates the Don't Waste MI Facebook page.

Kathy's videorecording also captured the street theater before the meeting (Part 1), as well as the public comments themselves (Part 2; Part 3; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9).

Kathy's still photo (to the left) shows "Mr. Burns" handing out "chunks of radioactive waste" (Atomic Fireball candies) to the public. "Mr. Burns" thanked the public for being such suckers, as the nuclear industry laughed all the way to the bank. He also advised them to quickly encase their chunks of radioactive waste in lead lined boxes, or else they'd be dead in three minutes from gamma radiation exposure. The skit was cooked up in Oak Brook, IL, to counter the Nuclear Energy Institute's handing out of fake uranium pellets, while failing to mention that irradiated uranium fuel pellets are deadly forevermore. The theme of the street theater was "The Emperor's New Clothes." Mr. Burns' wore an x-ray version, inspired by Russell Hoffman's "The Demon HOt Atom" graphic, showing where radioactive poisons lodge, and do their damage, in the human body.

Critics and skeptics of NRC's "Nuclear Waste Confidence" outnumbered supporters and apologists by a count of 35 to 9 -- that is a ration of nearly 4 to 1!

Tom Henry of the Toledo Blade reported on this story.

It's time to stop making it!

Re: the 12/2 Toledo-area meeting, Michael Keegan of Don't Waste MI and the Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes put out a press advisory. Its headline was RALLY AGAINST NUCLEAR WASTE CONFIDENCE GAME: ‘THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES.’

The co-chairs of the Alliance to Halt Fermi 3, Keith Gunter and Carol Izant, also issued a press advisory announcing that representatives from their growing coalition of groups would speak at the 12/2 Perrysburg, OH meeting.

San Luis Obispo, CA, public comment meeting, Nov. 20th

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace also provided sample comments in advance of its NRC nuke waste con game public comment meeting, held on 11/20.

Rockville, MD public comment meeting, Nov. 14th

At the Nov. 14th Rockville, MD NRC HQ public comment meeting, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps joined with numerous colleagues (see photo, above left) to testify.

In the short three minutes allotted for public comment, Kevin set the record straight on false statements the NRC has made in regards to its nuke waste con game policy.

At the Chicago public meeting on Nov. 12th, NRC Nuclear Waste Confidence Directorate Director, Keith McConnell, responded to a question from the audience about the scope of this draft GEIS. McConnell said that it had to do with "on-site" or "at-reactor" storage of irradiated nuclear fuel. Kevin set the record straight, pointing out that there is an entire section of the GEIS document, Chapter 5, about "Environmental Impacts of Away-From-Reactor Storage." This implies high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) transportation as well, a very significant issue that has gotten very short shrift in this draft GEIS.

And of course, the heart of NRC's "Nuclear Waste Confidence" for 30 years now has been the assumption that a deep geologic repository will open someday, somewhere, somehow. The courts, however, have ordered NRC to consider the all-too-real possibility that a repository will never open, leaving HLRW risks at-reactor or away-from-reactor (as at so-called "consolidated" or "centralized interim storage" sites -- parking lot dumps -- the opening of which, by 2021, is a top priority of the Wyden-Feinstein-Murkowski-Alexander "Mobile Chernobyl" bill, S. 1240, in the U.S. Senate, now set for a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee vote in December 2013).

Oak Brook, IL public comment meeting, Nov. 12th

See a write-up of the Chicago NRC nuke waste con game, for more ideas on potential comments you can make.

Tarrytown, NY public comment meeting, Oct. 30th

Marilyn Elie of Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC) provided Beyond Nuclear with the written statements by IPSEC members, NY AG Schneiderman, and others, from the Oct. 30th NRC public comment mtg. in Tarrytown, NY near Entergy's Indian Point nuclear power plant. Beyond Nuclear has posted these, so you can use them to help prepare your own.

Douglas P. Guarino, the award-winning reporter, wrote an article entitled "Legal Battle Against Rule Crucial To All U.S. Reactor Licenses Rages On" for Global Security Newswire. He quote Janice Dean, Assistant Attorney General of the State of New York, who testified at the Tarrytown, NY meeting.

NRC video recordings and transcripts from public comment meetings (Oct. 1 to Dec. 4)

Please note that NRC's Nuclear Waste Confidence Directorate has posted the archived webcast, as well as the audio recording, from the very first public comment meeting on Oct. 1 at NRC HQ in Rockville, MD; it has also posted the transcripts from the first five public comment meetings held around the country. You can use the presentations made by hundreds of environmentalists and public interest advocates in these sessions to help you prepare your own comments.

Oct. 2nd Curran/Thompson/Alvarez press conference on the catastrophic risks of high-level radioactive waste pool fires

At a press conference on Oct. 2nd, D.C. attorney Diane Curran, and experts Dr. Gordon Thompson (President of Institute for Resource and Security Studies) and Bob Alvarez (Senior Scholar, Institute for Policy Studies), also provided insights into the potentially catastrophic risks of high-level radioactive waste storage pool fires, which NRC is currently ignoring, despite an explicit court order for NRC to address them in the EIS.

Curran, along with Mindy Goldstein of Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University, are working with a team of experts, including Dave Lochbaum of Union of Concerned Scientists, and Arjun Makhijani of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, to prepare comments, on behalf of an environmental coalition comprised of two dozen groups, including Beyond Nuclear, to be submitted by the 12/20 deadline.