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.



NIRS: Would You CONSENT to Nuclear Waste? Tell DOE "NO" to Fukushima Freeways.

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Would You CONSENT to Nuclear Waste?

Tell DOE "NO" to Fukushima Freeways.

July 27, 2016

Dear Friends,    

What would it take for you to consent to accept nuclear waste in your region? The Department of Energy (DOE) wants to know.

DOE has held 9 public meetings across the country this year, and is now taking written comments, on the concept of public “consent” to accept high-level radioactive waste.

Send DOE  your comment today: No more nuclear waste - No Fukushima Freeways!

After decades of trying to force-feed the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear dump down the throats of Nevadans and the Western Shoshone Nation, the DOE and nuclear proponents now want to know what it will take to get people to “consent,” or at least appear to consent, to take nuclear waste in their communities.

DOE acknowledges this is also “consent” to future nuclear waste production as part of setting up an “integrated waste management system.” The federal agency says that the future of nuclear energy in this country depends on this.

Tell DOE what you think of nuclear waste by clicking here.

DOE seeks public input on how to be FAIR, WHO to include in the consent process, and what RESOURCES it will take to induce community participation in the nation's radioactive waste program.

  • DOE wants to identify who adequately represents a community and will consent to take nuclear waste on its behalf.
  • DOE is not defining exactly what or how much nuclear waste we would be “consenting” or not consenting to accept.
  • And DOE is not asking how a community can refuse or express permanent “non-consent,” although you can let them know that if you choose to.

Although they have reports, diagrams of storage containers and systems, ideas and plans for the tens of thousands of tons of nuclear waste in this country, they claim to want to negotiate with communities who would “consent” to take it forever or supposedly temporarily.

Tell DOE what you think of nuclear waste by clicking here.

No consideration of the rights or consent of communities along transport routes is being made or requested. Although one of the greatest dangers to the most people, environments and ecosystems is the movement of tens of thousands of tons of nuclear waste on roads, rails and waterways, DOE has stated that there is complete federal preemption over transport of nuclear waste, so states and communities along the transport routes would have no voice, no matter how much waste DOE plans to move through them.
DOE is giving no consideration of the rights of future generations who will inevitably be affected.
DOE and the nuclear industry are eager for volunteering or consenting communities to take the waste and for the DOE to take title to it--absolving the industry of responsibility for managing the waste it creates before there is even a proven solution for its long-term management.

Thanks for all you do!

Mary Olson - Southeast Office Director
Diane D'Arrigo - Radioactive Waste Project Director

For More Information

NIRS Info Materials on Fukushima Freeways and Consolidated Storage

Talking Points on Consent-Based Siting from Beyond Nuclear

Click here to read a Federal Register notice that explains more about DOE's request for public comment on these issues. There is also information on this DOE website.

You can contact Diane D'Arrigo or Mary Olson at NIRS for more information about the other meetings and the issue generally.

Submit a Public Comment! We encourage everyone to submit your own thoughts on these issues to DOE. Comment deadline is July 31, 2016. Please send an email to Please include “Response to IPC” in the subject line.

Stay Informed:

NIRS on the web:

GreenWorld: (NIRS' blog chronicling nuclear issues and the transition to a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system)

NIRS on Facebook:

NIRS on Twitter:!/nirsnet

NIRS on YouTube:

[This NIRS action alert, reproduced above, is also posted online here: ]


Beyond Nuclear’s Top Ten List for Comments to DOE re: Irradiated Nuclear Fuel (High-Level Radioactive Waste)

  1. Stop making it. The only truly safe, sound, just solution for the radioactive waste problem, is to not make it in the first place. Electricity can be supplied by clean, safe, affordable renewable sources, such as wind and solar, and demand decreased significantly by efficiency, rather than generating radioactive waste via dirty, dangerous, and expensive nuclear power.
  2. Expedite the transfer of irradiated nuclear fuel from densely-packed “wet” storage pools into Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS) dry casks.
  3. Store irradiated nuclear fuel in HOSS dry casks, as safely and securely as possible, as close to the point of generation as possible, in a monitored, inspectable, retrievable manner.
  4. Given the unavoidable risks of high-level radioactive waste truck, train, and/or barge shipments on roads, rails, and/or waterways (Mobile Chernobyls, Dirty Bombs on Wheels, Floating Fukushimas), transport irradiated nuclear fuel only once, such as straight to a (suitable, acceptable, just) geological repository, not to so-called centralized interim storage (de facto permanent parking lot dumps, such as those currently targeted at Waste Control Specialists, LLC in Andrews County, west Texas; at Eddy-Lea Counties, near the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeast New Mexico; Native American reservations; nuclear power plants, such as Exelon's Dresden in Morris, IL; etc.).
  5. Geological repositories must be scientifically suitable (capable of isolating the hazardous high-level radioactive waste from the living environment forevermore), socially acceptable (genuinely consent-based), and environmentally just. Note that no such suitable/acceptable/just geologic repository has yet been found, in more than half a century of looking. DOE has admitted it can’t open any repository (even an unsuitable/unacceptable/unjust one) till 2048 at the earliest, more than a century after Enrico Fermi, in 1942, generated the first high-level radioactive waste, in the world’s first reactor, as part of the Manhattan Project to build atomic bombs; and more than 90 years years after the first “civilian” atomic reactor began generating waste at Shippingport, PA.
  6. Do not reprocess (extract fissile plutonium and/or uranium from) irradiated nuclear fuel. Not only would this risk nuclear weapons proliferation, and be astronomically expensive; it would also very likely cause environmental ruin downwind and downstream of wherever it is carried out, as has been shown at such places as Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington; Savannah River Site, South Carolina; West Valley, New York; Sellafield, England; La Hague, France; Kyshtym, Russia; etc.
  7. Preserve and maintain “wet” storage pools – albeit emptied of irradiated nuclear fuel -- as an emergency back up location for cask-to-cask HOSS transfers, when old HOSS casks deteriorate toward failure, and need to be replaced with brand new HOSS casks. That is, do not dismantle pools as part of nuclear power plant decommissioning post-reactor shutdown.
  8. Carefully pass information about storing irradiated nuclear fuel as safely as possible, as close to the point of generation as possible, from one generation to the next, à la the concept of “Rolling Stewardship” described by the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.
  9. Address the shortfall in funding for forevermore storage of high-level radioactive waste. Dr. Mark Cooper of Vermont Law School has estimated the first 200 years of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel storage (assuming just a single repository, although at least two will be required!) will cost $210 to $350 billion, even though there is only some tens of billions of dollars remaining in the now-terminated Nuclear Waste Fund, collected from nuclear power ratepayers.
  10. Environmental justice, in keeping with Bill Clinton's 1994 Executive Order 12898, demands that Native American communities and lands, as well as those of other low income and/or people of color communities, never again be targeted for high-level radioactive waste parking lot dumps or permanent burial sites, a shameful form of radioactive racism dating back decades in the U.S.

Speak now (before the July 31 deadline for public comments), or forever hold your peace, regarding Mobile Chernobyls through a town near facto permanent parking lot dumps for high-level radioactive waste...and permanent burial dumps for high-level radioactive waste on scientifically unsuitable, socially unacceptable, and/or environmentally unjust (radioactively racist) locations!

Also see Beyond Nuclear's two-page and 13-page versions of the "We Do NOT Consent!" talking points, for more detail.


SAMPLE COMMENTS TO DOE ON "CONSENT" for 11:59pm Eastern, Sunday, July 31st public comment deadline

Mary Olson, Director of NIRS Southeast Office, has compiled this collection of sample comments you can use to write your own, for submission to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) by its 11:59pm Eastern deadline for public comments regarding so-called "Consent-Based Siting" of centralized interim storage (de facto permanent parking lot dumps), permanent burial sites, and the Mobile Chernobyl truck, train, barge shipments on the roads, rails, and waterways through most states it would take to move the waste there:

Joel Masser shared the following two ideas:

---consent must be defined in terms of a fully informed electorate and a vote of the people;

---siting must ensure environmental justice by complying with Executive Order 12898 and
the Department of Energy's own formal environmental justice policy.

The SEED Coalition in Texas (the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development Coalition, a lead group fighting the parking lot dump targeted at Waste Control Specialists, LLC in Andrews County, West Texas, on the New Mexico border) prepared the following comments, viewable here at this link.

The North American Water Office (long-time watchdogs on Minnesota's atomic reactors, and on-site radioactive waste storage, at Monticello and Prairie Island) submitted these comments to DOE after the meeting in Minneapolis.

Pilgrim Watch in Massachusetts prepared these comments for the meeting in Boston.

Two sets of sample comments, not attributed to a particular author, are posted here: set #1; set #2.

In addition to Mary Olson at NIRS's compilation, the following comments have been circulated by their authors, to help others prepare their own comments by the deadline:

---Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety in Santa Fe, NM, presented these comments to DOE at the "Consent-Based Siting" meeting in Sacramento, CA on April 26th (ironically timed, being the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophically);


ANA submits comments to DOE on "Consent-Based Siting" of radioactive waste dumps

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA), a network of organizations and leaders seeking a nuclear-free future that safeguards our communities and environment, has filed comments with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), regarding its "Consent-Based Siting" proceeding for opening centralized interim storage sites and permanent burial sites for high-level radioactive waste and irradiated nuclear fuel.

Beyond Nuclear has been a member organzation of the ANA network, since Beyond Nuclear was founded in 2007. ANA is a coalition of some three-dozen watchdog groups, many from communities living in the shadows of DOE nuclear weapons complex facilities. Some of those facilities -- such as Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) -- are already permanent burial dumps for radioactive wastes (in WIPP's case, plutonium contaminated wastes from the weapons complex).

The WIPP area -- Eddy and Lea counties, New Mexico -- is also being targeted for consolidated interim storage for commercial irradiated nuclear fuel (a.k.a. a de facto permanent parking lot dump). ANA member groups CCNS (Concerned Citzens for Nuclear Safety), Nuclear Watch New Mexico, and SRIC (Southwest Research and Information Center) watch-dog nuclear issues in New Mexico; SRIC has watch-dogged WIPP specifically for decades.

Waste Control Specialists, LLC (WCS) in Andrews County, West Texas, just across the border from New Mexico, is also targeted for a parking lot dump. WCS is already a national dumpsite for a large variety of so-called "low" level radioactive wastes. It is located directly adjacent to, or even above, the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides vital irrigation and drinking water to numerous states on the Great Plains, from Texas to South Dakota. Because of this, several Texas state environmental officials resigned in protest over the original opening of this risky dump.

Numerous other DOE nuclear weapons complex sites may also be on the target list for parking lot dumps, including the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina. SRS has long "served" as a "long-term" storage site for highly radioactive wastes, some of which are being permanently abandoned in underground storage tanks, which is almost guaranteed to cause radioactive ruin of the Savannah River, and perhaps even the Tuscaloosa Aquifer, over time. A number of ANA member groups watch-dog SRS, including: Georgia WAND (Women's Action for New Directions); Nuclear Watch South; and SRS Watch.

The situation is very similar at Idaho National Lab (INL), putting at dire risk the Snake River, and the Snake River Aquifer. The Snake River Alliance is the ANA member group that has long watch-dogged INL.

HEAL (Healthy Environment Alliance) Utah led -- along with traditional Skull Valley Goshutes tribal members Margene Bullcreek and Sammy Blackbear -- the successful grassroots environmental justice effort to fend off a parking lot dump for commercial high-level radioactive waste, targeted at the tiny Indian reservation west of Salt Lake City, a decade ago.

Yet other ANA member groups have been forced to deal with actual dumping of radioactive wastes, or the attempted dumping of such waste, without their consent. This includes PRESS (Portsmouth/Piketon Residents for Environmental Safety and Security), targeted for a centralized interim storage site and reprocessing facility under the George W. Bush administration's Global Nuclear Energy Partnership a decade ago.

It also includes Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, central to the effort to fend off a "Monitored Retrievable Storage" (MRS) site for commercial irradiated nuclear fuel in decades past.

It also includes Heart of America Northwest, and Hanford Challenge, which watch-dog the worst radioactively contaminated site in the Western Hemisphere, the Hanford Nuclear (Weapons) Reservation, which "hosts" many millions of gallons of high-level radioactive liquid wastes, in leaking storage tanks.

And still other ANA member groups, such as PSR (Physicians for Social Responsibility) Kansas City, PeaceWorks Kansas City, and Rocky Mountain Peace & Justice Center, given their geographic location along major "Mobile Chernobyl" shipping routes for high-level radioactive waste transports, have played vital roles in calling attention to, and fending off any unnecessary rush into, those risks, for a long time.

This listing, unfortunately, is far from exhaustive.


Public Citizen action alert: Nuclear dump in your community?

Update from Public Citizen

After four decades of failing to find a place to dump our nation’s lethal nuclear waste, the federal government is trying a new approach:


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is designing a new process called “consent-based siting” for developing nuclear waste facilities that would require a state and local community to agree to stockpile our radioactive waste.

And the DOE is asking the public to weigh in on the process.

That’s right — instead of forcing a radioactive waste facility on a state or community against its will, which is the current U.S. policy, the DOE is attempting to adopt a process that is more adaptive, flexible and open to public input and scrutiny.

Public Citizen has identified 10 principles that the DOE should build into its design to achieve and maintain fair and just consent-based siting.

View our 10 Criteria for Community Consent, then urge the DOE to incorporate them into its design.

We have an obligation to future generations to find a safe, permanent solution for managing nuclear materials they had no part in creating.

However, a community or state should not unwillingly have to bear this responsibility.

That’s why a fundamental change in the government’s approach to public engagement, consultation and consent in managing lethal waste is necessary.

This is an opportunity.

Don’t let the government waste it.

Thank you,

Allison Fisher
Public Citizen’s Climate and Energy Program