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.



Radioactivity leaks from U.S. waste storage pools

A new Beyond Nuclear fact sheet documents leaks of radioactivity from five U.S. nuclear facilities' radioactive waste storage and handling pools. Nuclear power plants suffering such leaks have thus far included Indian Point, NY; CT Yankee; and Salem, NJ. In addition, a research reactor irradiated nuclear fuel storage pool has leaked at Brookhaven National Lab on Long Island, NY, as has the irradiated nuclear fuel handling pool at BWXT (Babcock and Wilcox Technologies, Inc.) in Lynchburg, VA. Highlights ("lowlights") include: multiple storage pools leaking such radioactive poisons as Strontium-90 at Indian Point, which has been detected in fish in the Hudson River; a leak that had been underway for an undetermined length of time from CT Yankee's storage pool; a leak of 100 gallons per day of radioactive water from the Salem Unit 1 storage pool that had been ongoing for at least five years; but Brookhaven's tritium leak outdid even this, having been underway, undetected, for a dozen years, into the aquifer that serves as the sole source of drinking water for over a million Long Island residents; and BWXT's leak of 250 gallons per day took place just 500 yards from the James River. The risks of such leaks grow worse as the pools' concrete walls and steel liners degrade, crack and corrode with age. Obviously, industry monitoring systems and regulatory agency enforcement measures are dismally failing to protect public health and the environment.


Speaking tour of Japan challenges long-term MOX irradiated fuel storage

Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps toured Japan from August 2nd to 12th, visiting Tokyo, Fukushima, Fukui, Kansai and Kyushu. Local Japanese anti-nuclear groups asked Kevin to address the risks of long-term storage of Mixed (plutonium-uranium) Oxide (MOX) irradiated nuclear fuel in pools, given the leaks of radioactive water that have occurred at five U.S. nuclear facilities, including Indian Point, Salem, Connecticut Yankee, Brookhaven National Lab, and Babcock & Wilcox, Virginia. Several reactors in Japan are recklessly moving to load MOX fuel, even though there is no final disposition plan for the irradiated fuel that would be generated. There is a vague promise to someday build a special reprocessing facility in Japan, but that is unlikely to ever happen, and even if it didi would actually only make matters much worse! This means the radioactive wastes will remain in storage pools on-site for decades. Kevin also presented a power point about the many risks of storing irradiated nuclear fuel in pools.


Spanish town ponders nuclear dump

Mayor Jose Maria Saiz believes he has a shot at re-energizing this dying town in central Spain. On a site just beyond its old white houses, amid fields of barley and sunflowers, he envisions building Spain's first centralized depot for nuclear waste. Wall Street Journal. 


Attempt to restore funding for Yucca dump rebuffed by Senate Appropriators

Sen. Patty Murray’s (D-WA) effort to appropriate $200 million to the Yucca Mountain, Nevada repository for high-level radioactive waste -- despite President Obama, Energy Secretary Chu, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s opposition to the dumpsite -- was voted against by every other Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, as well as one Republican.

Her amendment failed by a 16 to 13 vote against on the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday.

Recently, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing board rejected the Dept. of Energy's motion to withdraw its license application for the Yucca dump. The NRC Commissioners will soon review the licensing board's ruling, and vote to uphold or overturn it. Whichever side loses that Commission review will almost certainly appeal the decision to the federal courts.

The Obama administration requested that the Yucca Mountain Project's budget be zeroed out for Fiscal Year 2011, a request that will be carried out, if today's Senate Appropriations Committee FY2011 Energy and Water Appropriations bill is enacted as is.

The Obama administration established a "Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future" to determine a Plan B, now that Yucca has been cancelled. Unfortunately, however -- as the ironic name implies -- many on the Commission, including co-chair Brent Scowcroft, seem more focused on expanding atomic energy than on solving the radioactive waste crisis


Heart of America Northwest warns Obama's Blue Ribbon Commission about reprocessing 

Matt Wald of the New York Times reports on his blog "Green" that Gerry Pollet of Heart of America Northwest, a watchdog group on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State, has warned President Obama's "Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future" that reprocessing is a dangerous mistake, a lesson learned the hard way on the banks of the Columbia River. The Blue Ribbon Commission will be holding its third meeting in mid-July in the vicinity of Hanford. The first two meetings were held in Washington D.C. The BRC will meet every other month until mid-2011, when its draft report is due on a "Plan B" now that President Obama has wisely cancelled the Yucca dump in Nevada. A final report will be done by early 2012.