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.



No radioactive waste on Native American lands!

In his public comments at their first meeting, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps urged Energy Secretary Chu's "Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future" to "put a stop, once and for all, to the shameful history of targeting Native American communities and lands with radioactive waste dumps." Kevin thanked President Obama and Secretary Chu for the tremendous environmental justice victory represented by their wise decision to cancel the Yucca Mountain dumpsite proposal targeted at Western Shoshone Indian lands at Yucca Mountain in Nevada (pictured at left through the frame of a Western Shoshone sweat lodge, 2004 photo courtesy of Gabriela Bulisova), and honored Native American leaders such as Corbin Harney and Grace Thorpe, who devoted their lives to stopping radioactive waste dumps targeted at Native lands. In 2005, along with Pubilc Citizen, Kevin documented the history of this radioactive racism, including at Skull Valley Goshutes in Utah. Nearly 450 groups unsuccessfully petitioned the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission against licensing the Private Fuel Storage "parking lot dump," but thanks to the tireless efforts of Skull Valley traditionals like Margene Bullcreek and Sammy Blackbear, it was ultimately blocked.


170 groups demand hardened on-site storage with "Principles for Safeguarding Nuclear Waste at Reactors"

170 national and grassroots environmental organizations, representing every state in the country, have signed onto the "Statement of Principles for Safeguarding Nuclear Waste at Reactors." It urges decision makers, including Energy Secretary Chu's blue ribbon commission on radioactive waste, to require hardened on-site storage (HOSS) for high-level radioactive waste stored at nuclear power plants across the U.S. The Statement also expresses adamant opposition to the dirty, dangerous, and expensive extraction of plutonium (reprocessing) from irradiated nuclear fuel. (Image reprinted from Dr. Gordon Thompson's report Robust Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel: A Neglected Issue of Homeland Security, commissioned by Citizens Awareness Network and published by the Institute for Resource and Security Studies in Jan. 2003.)


With hasty stroke of a pen, Bush DOE transferred billions of dollars in radioactive waste liability onto taxpayers

Beyond Nuclear, along with Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and the law firm of  Harmon, Curran, Spielberg, and Eisenberg, LLP, have broken the story that between November 4, 2008 (the day Barack Obama was elected President) and January 22, 2009 (two days after he took the Oath of Office), the George W. Bush administration’s Department of Energy (DOE) hurriedly signed new irradiated nuclear fuel contracts with utilities proposing 21 new atomic reactors. This obligates U.S. taxpayers to ultimate financial liability for breach of contract damages if DOE fails to take possession of these estimated 21,000 metric tons of high-level radioactive waste by ten years after the new reactors’ licenses terminate. This could cost taxpayers billions or even tens of billions of dollars over time. DOE signed these contracts despite the fact that it has already cost taxpayers $565 million in damages for past breached contacts involving old radioactive waste at commercial reactors, with $790 million more soon to be transferred from the U.S. Treasury to atomic utilities. In fact, DOE estimates that by 2020, taxpayers will have paid $12.3 billion in damages to nuclear utilities for waste contract breaches, while the nuclear industry itself estimates the ultimate taxpayer damage awards will top $50 billion. These new contracts will only add to that crushing burden. See the full materials from the press conference: media release, backgrounder on new waste disposal contracts (authored by Beyond Nuclear’s Kevin Kamps), Principles for Safeguarding Nuclear Waste at Reactors, and the new contracts themselves, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. You can even listen to an audio recording of the press conference. Also see Arjun Makhijani's opening statement, as well as Kevin's and attorney Diane Curran's. The news conference garnered 25 stories in the media, including a major article in Christian Science Monitor.


ANA awards Yucca watchdogs certificates of honor

On March 16 during its "DC Days" award ceremony, the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (of which Beyond Nuclear is a member group) presented certificates of honor to Steve Frishman and Judy Treichel for their more than quarter century of grassroots leadership against the now-cancelled Yucca Mountain dumpsite in Nevada. Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Watchdog, had the privilege of introducing Judy and Steve. Judy, founder and executive director of the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force, was honored "For her steadfast leadership in Nevada and across the country working with community organizations to raise transportation and other concerns as part of an effective campaign to stop the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Project." Judy's acceptance speech was marked by her characteristic sense of humor. Steve Frishman, who long served at the State of Nevada's Agency for Nuclear Projects, was honored "For his expertise in exposing technical and legal problems that demonstrated the inadequacies of the proposed site as part of an effective campaign to stop the Yucca Mountain Project." In his acceptance speech, Steve celebrated "the value of persistence in a just cause, and the value of friends who shared theirs with us."


New reactors in WV still blocked due to no radioactive waste solution

The Charleston NBC affiliate reports that the State of West Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee has killed for this year an attempt to overturn a 1996 state ban on the construction of atomic reactors in the state until the high-level radioactive waste problem has been solved.