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.



Bi-national environmental coalition demands U.S. Dept. of Transportation scrutizine risks of radioactive waste ship on Great Lakes

Detroit News graphic of route, Sept. 11, 2010A U.S.-Canadian environmental coalition has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, demanding that it perform a federally required National Environmental Policy Act examination of the risks associated with Bruce Power shipping 16 radioactive steam generators from its 8 reactor nuclear power plant on the Lake Huron shoreline in Ontario, via the remaining Great Lakes, across the Atlantic, to Sweden for melting down and mixing into the consumer product scrap metal recycling stream. The coalition also demands that PHMSA analyze the less dangerous alternative of a longstanding Canadian plan simply to store the steam generators indefinitely onsite. They demand this happen before granting a U.S. DOT permit for the shipment of these radioactive wastes through U.S. waters on the Great Lakes. As described in the coalition's press release, the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Cities Initiative has calculated that the radioactive cargo would violate International Atomic Energy Agency safety regulations for the amount of radioactivity allowed on a single ship by 50 times over. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, whose staff has described the shipment as of very low risk, will hold a hearing in Ottawa, Ontario beginning on Sept. 29th to receive public comment from concerned citizens. Over 75 such submissions have been made by groups from the U.S. and Canada, showing how concerned environmentalists are about this radioactive waste shipment on the Great Lakes. Beyond Nuclear has registered to provide oral testimony at the hearing on the comments it has submitted. A full size image of the map showing the route above appeared in the Detroit News on Sept. 11.


Report challenges claim that nuclear waste can be safely buried

A coalition of environmental and social organizations in northeastern Ontario is welcoming a report released today that critiques the nuclear industry’s claims of a scientific consensus around the safety of burying nuclear waste in rock formations. BAYTODAY.


Beyond Nuclear posts Great Lakes radioactive waste barge shipment document for all the world to see

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has made its staff's analysis of the risks involving shipping 16 giant, 100 ton, intensely radioactive steam generators on the Great Lakes difficult to find online. For that reason, Beyond Nuclear has posted the document here. This report, prepared by the CNSC staff for review by the CNSC Commissioners, concludes that the shipments are very low risk. We, and a growing international coalition of environmental watchdogs, beg to differ. The shipments would originate at the Bruce nuclear power complex on the Lake Huron shore in Ontario, and be transported by barge through the Great Lakes downstream (Lake Huron, St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, Detroit River, Lake Erie, Niagara River, Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence River), across the Atlantic Ocean, to Sweden, where they will be "recycled" into radioactive consumer products, in order to save Bruce Power Company money on radioactive waste disposal costs. A hearing before the CNSC will be held in Ottawa, Ontario on this proposal on Sept. 29th.


Sept. 29th is International Radioactive Waste Action Day!

Image courtesy of Supertubes Surfing Foundation, Jeffreys Bay, South AfricaBeyond Nuclear, in coalition with allies which organized the grassroots radioactive waste policy summit in Chicago in early June, have declared Sept. 29th an international day of action and awareness raising on radioactive waste issues. The date was chosen to commemorate the worst known radioactive waste disaster -- a reprocessing storage tank explosion in the Ural Mountains of Siberia on Sept. 29, 1957, which contaminated an entire region, immediately killed hundreds, and undoubtedly has sickened and even killed many more since, due to the lingering radioactive contamination of a vast area of the environment. Please help spread the word by sharing the flyer and invitation to take action. Also check out the Facebook page.


Resistance builds to radioactive waste shipments on Great Lakes

The Great Lakes United (GLU) Nuclear-Free/Green Energy Task Force has taken the lead in shining a spotlight on the proposal by Bruce Nuclear Power Complex in Ontario to barge 16 radioactive steam generators out the Great Lakes, and across the Atlantic, to Sweden for "recycling" the metal for un-restricted re-use in consumer products. A resolution signed by scores of organizations in the U.S. and Canada, as well as a cover letter to heads of government in the U.S. and Canada, signed by Task Force co-chairs Dr. Gordon Edwards and Michael Keegan, as well as GLU executive director Derek Stack, is posted at the GLU website. Also posted there are three documents written by Dr. Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility: a graphic image and photograph showing the radioactive "intestines" inside steam generatorss; an inventory of the hazardous radioactive isotopes that contaminate steam generators; and official company and government environmental assessment documents showing that the plan had been to store the radioactive steam generators on-site as waste, not ship them off for "recycling."

In addition to the radiological risks of one of these barges sinking -- including stigma impacts on economic sectors such as Great Lakes tourism and fisheries, even if there is not a radioactive release -- there is also the precedent setting nature of this proposal. As part of its Yucca Mountain plan, the U.S. Dept. of Energy has also proposed barging high-level radioactive wastes on the Great Lakes, as well as on the Chesapeake and Delaware Bay, various surface waters surrounding metro New York City as well as Boston, the California and Florida coastlines, and such inland rivers as the James in Virginia, the Mississippi, the Missouri, and the Tennessee. Unlike steam generators, irradiated nuclear fuel sinking risks accidental nuclear chain reactions underwater, due to the presence of fissile U-235 and Pu-239 in the high-level radioactive waste, which would make emergency response a "suicide mission," and would worsen radioactive releases to the environment. But any other "away-from-reactor" plans, such as reprocessing or "centralized interim storage" (aka parking lot dumps), could also involve such barge shipments.

Beyond Nuclear has delivered copies of the materials about the Bruce steam generator barge shipments proposal to the U.S. congressional delegations of the eight Great Lakes States (IL, IN, MI, MN, NY, OH, PA, WI). Please contact your own U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative via the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Urge them to take action, such as contacting the Obama administration, to protect the inland and coastal waters of the U.S. from the risks of shipping radioactive wastes.