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.



NRC Issues Notice of Violation to Entergy Nuclear Palisades for High-Level Radioactive Waste Risk

Beyond Nuclear, Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes, and Don't Waste Michigan issued a media release upon learning of a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Notice of Violation issued to Entergy's Palisades Nuclear Power Plant on the Lake Michigan shoreline in southwest Michigan citing a nuclear criticality risk in the irradiated nuclear fuel storage pool that threated not only worker safety, but also public health. The coalition not only raised concerns about the waste storage pool, but also pointed out that the outdoor dry casks are defective and at risk of earthquakes.


New England governors "wish" high-level radioactive waste away

Seemingly suffering from a bad case of wishful thinking, a coalition of New England governors has written Energy Secretary Steven Chu urging that DOE remove irradiated nuclear fuel from their states as soon as possible. Perhaps the governors haven't kept up on the news for awhile, but there is nowhere for the waste to go away to. Ironically, their pressure might just backfire on them -- in late 2008, DOE reported to Congress and the President that there is need for a second repository (never mind that the first one has just been cancelled, so that means two new repositories are needed) for high-level radioactive waste disposal. And just as it did in the 1980s, DOE is sniffing around New England again, at granite geological formations, such as Sebago Lake ME, Hillsboro NH, and locations in VT for "suitable" sites to bury forever deadly high-level radioactive waste. The governors also claim that decommissioned nuclear power plant sites, such as Maine Yankee, Yankee Rowe in MA, and Connecticut Yankee could be readily returned to productive use. The problem is, despite NRC assurances to the contrary, the sites are still radioactively contaminated, posing health risks to future residents and visitors for a long time to come.


DOE and OMB "at odds" over speed of Yucca dump's cancellation?

A letter from U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu to White House Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag seems  to indicate a difference in positions as to how quickly the Yucca Mountain, Nevada high-level radioactive waste dumpsite should be phased out. Although President Obama and Energy Secretary Chu have made clear time and time again that Yucca is no longer an option for high-level radioactive waste disposal, the proposed repository's construction and operating license application proceeding before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been allowed to continue (in fact an oral hearing will be held at the end of this month in Las Vegas), raising the specter that the supposedly cancelled dump could come back to life someday under the right political circumstances. In the meantime, the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, Timbisha Shoshone Indian Tribe, and other dump opponents must remain vigilant until the final nail has been pounded down on the dump's coffin lid.


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.