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.



Vote delayed on turning Texas into the national “low-level” radioactive waste dump

The Sustainable Energy & Economic Development (SEED) Coalition, and other anti-nuclear allies in Texas, needs help in urging the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission to prohibit the importation of “low-level” radioactive waste from across the country into its geologically unsound dumpsite in Andrews County, West Texas, located above precious groundwater supplies near the New Mexico border into which the buried radioactive wastes are guaranteed to leak over time. Not only do old and proposed new reactors in Texas and Vermont (the two state compact formed in 1993) hope to dump there, but so do old and proposed new reactors across the country – most of which lack any disposal option for Class B and Class C “low-level” radioactive wastes ever since the Barnwell, South Carolina dumpsite closed its doors to most states last year. At public meetings last Thursday and Friday, the SEED Coalition succeeded in persuading the TX Compact Commission to delay its draft radioactive waste export/import rule for one month, allowing public comments before the draft rule is published. Two articles, “Radioactive Waste Commission Punts” and “A Radioactive Loophole,” by Forrest Wilder in The Texas Observer, provide valuable coverage. The next public meeting of the Compact Commission is scheduled for Jan. 22nd, 2010, so watch the Beyond Nuclear Web site for ways to weigh in! Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, dozens of “low-level” radioactive waste dumps were targeted at many states throughout the country. Grassroots opposition beat back almost every single proposal. Our friends in Texas need our help to do so again now. Nuclear Information and Resource Service, which has been warning about WCS for many years, has good history and updates on the “low-level” radioactive waste struggle.


Long-awaited GAO report documents costs of high-level radioactive waste management alternative

A Government Accountability Office report, "NUCLEAR WASTE MANAGEMENT: Key Attributes, Challenges, and Costs of the Yucca Mountain Repository and Two Potential Alternatives," has just been released. Beyond Nuclear's Paul Gunter and Kevin Kamps served as consultants on the report, which was a year and a half in the making. The report details the monetary costs, and technical challenges, of managing irradiated nuclear fuel for decades and even centuries to come. Requested by Nevada Senators Harry Reid (the Senate Majority Leader and long-time Yucca dump foe) and John Ensign, as well as Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbarba Boxer of California, this report confirms what radioactive waste watchdogs have long warned -- that the price tag for ratepayers and taxpayers will rise into the tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars over time. The report compares the costs and challenges of radioactive waste disposal at Yucca Mountain, versus long-term on-site storage at nuclear power plants, as well as "centralized interim storage" at two regional sites in the U.S. The report does not compare and contrast the "safety, health, and environmental risks" associated with each of the proposed alternatives, however.


New Senate bill would advance radioactive waste reprocessing

A bill proposed by U.S. Senators Jim Webb (Democrat from Virginia) and Lamar Alexander (Republican from Tennessee) seeks to double nuclear power in the U.S. over the next 20 years, and relapse further into radioactive waste reprocessing, at taxpayer expense to the tune of $100 billion, not to mention radiological risk. But Environment America expressed immediate opposition, urging resources be directed to cleaner, safer, and cheaper energy efficiency and renewable sources of electricity.


Swedish town to get radioactive waste repository

The Swedish town of Osthammar will house the country's first high-level radioactive waste repository. But, as Sam King writes in the Financial Times, "nuclear waste is short on what most people consider winning qualities."  His article describes in clear, lay terms, the deadly dangers of long-lived radioactive waste and the strange journey taken by two Swedish towns vying to host it.


Sign your group onto revised "Principles for Safeguarding Nuclear Waste at Reactors"!

In response to the nuclear power establishment's current push to revive commercial high-level radioactive waste reprocessing in the U.S. for the first time in 37 years, Beyond Nuclear and Physicians for Social Responsibility have revised and updated the 2006 "Principles for Safeguarding Nuclear Waste at Reactors." Beyond Nuclear and PSR recently invited organizations to sign the revised Principles. Please sign your group onto these revised Principles as soon as possible by emailing Morgan Pinnell at PSR, Individuals can help by sharing this alert with groups they are associated with, as well as contacting their own U.S. Senators and Representative, to urge "hardened on-site storage" as an interim alternative to such high-risk proposals as commercial reprocessing. For more background on the "Principles", see here. (Image from Dr. Gordon Thompson's 2003 report, "Robust Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel: A Neglected Issue of Homeland Security," commissioned by Citizens Awareness Network)