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.



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.


NRC licensing board ruling keeps Yucca "illusion of a solution" alive, for now

A U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety and Licensing Board has ruled that the U.S. Department of Energy cannot withdraw its application for a construction and operating license at the proposed Yucca Mountain, Nevada national repository for high-level radioactive waste. The board ruled "Unless Congress directs otherwise, D.O.E. may not single-handedly derail the legislated decision-making process." The ruling contradicts President Barack Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu's policy decision that Yucca Mountain is no longer an option for radioactive waste disposal. In February, Chu moved to withdraw the license application from the NRC proceeding, and also zeroed out DOE's budget request for the Yucca Mountain Project for Fiscal Year 2011. The five NRC Commissioners may now review the licensing board's ruling, and either uphold or reverse it. Please phone the White House comment line at (202) 456-1111, email it via its webform (, or send a handwritten letter via fax (202-456-2461) or post (The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500). Thank President Obama for cancelling the Yucca Mountain dumpsite. Urge him to stand strong and make sure the dump is dead. For more information on the geologic unsuitability of Yucca Mountain, as well as the environmental injustice of targeting sacred Western Shoshone Indian treaty land in Nevada for radioactive waste dumping, see Beyond Nuclear's Yucca website section, as well as NIRS's Yucca website section. A vast "repository" of information about the Yucca Mountain dump, and the struggle to stop it, can also be found at the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Project's website. Incredibly, despite them having missed the deadline by several years to apply to become parties in the Yucca licensing proceeding, the ASLB ruling has also allowed several pro-dump parties, such as the States of Washington and South Carolina, to now join the proceeding as intervening parties opposing DOE's license application withdrawal.


June 5th Chicago grassroots radioactive waste policy educational forum workshop presenters confirmed

The Obama/Chu Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future held its second meeting in Washington, D.C. on May 25 and 26. Beyond Nuclear and other atomic watchdogs attended and testified. Despite strong urging by Natural Resources Defense Council, repeated by Tom Cochran at this meeting, the Blue Ribbon Commission has refused to provide balance for its pro-nuclear power membership by seating a non-profit environmental scientist, nor a member of a grassroots community group impacted by radioactive waste. Thus, the Chicago grassroots gathering on radioactive waste policy June 4-6 is needed more than ever to directly challenge the Blue Ribbon Commission’s bias in favor of expanding atomic energy despite the now over 68 year old, unsolved and worsening radioactive waste crisis. Help to prevent more radioactive waste generation: to learn more about and register for the Chicago gathering, go to the NEIS website. The schedule for the Saturday, June 5th educational forum and evening program has also now been finalized, and presenters confirmed.


Nuclear utilities sue DOE to evade Nuclear Waste Fund fees

The industry's lobby arm, Nuclear Energy Institute, and 16 nuclear utilities, have sued the U.S. Department of Energy in federal court to seek a suspension to $750 million per year of ratepayer fees charged on electricity bills for radioactive waste generation at commercial reactors. The lawsuit comes in response to the Obama administration's decision to cancel the Yucca Mountain dumpsite proposal in Nevada.