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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.

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Sunday
Jul312016

IEER's Comments on the “Design of a Consent-Based Siting Process for Nuclear Waste and Disposal Storage Facilities”

Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D., President of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Energy on the “Design of a Consent-Based Siting Process for Nuclear Waste and Disposal Storage Facilities.”

Friday
Jul292016

Fairewinds Energy Education Comments on "Consent Based Nuclear Siting"

Radioactive waste being dumped in an unlined ditchFairewinds Energy Education just submitted its comment to the United States Department of Energy regarding its "Consent based siting" process. Should you decide to comment, learn more here. Comments are due Sunday, July 31

Fairewinds Energy Education Comments on "Consent Based Nuclear Siting"

“Consent based siting” is the process proposed by the Department of Energy (DOE) to locate radioactive waste dump sites around the US.  Fairewinds Energy Education believes that such a process is biased against communities struggling financially due to factory closings and the global economy. Choosing an atomic waste dump is tempting to towns and villages so anxious to increase short term income and economic survival that they are willing to sacrifice long-term environmental damage in return for that income.  

At its heart, the consent based process is an environmental justice violation as well as a DOE method to avoid finding an appropriate scientifically viable site to dump by foisting it on impoverished citizens who will not mount a protest. 

Nuclear waste remains toxic for tens of thousands of years.  The consent based siting proposed by the DOE lures currently underemployed citizens to commit their hometown community for hundreds of future generations of potential genetic damage in return for a short term income gain to a few individuals, who own that land. 

While atomic power reactors have left all of us with mountains of radioactive garbage that will need monitoring and special handling for hundreds, and even thousands, of years, instead the DOE must find the best waste dump location, and not just stick the waste where the fewest individuals will launch protest actions.  When Litchfield County Connecticut and Orange County California have an equal chance at being chosen to be the site of a nuclear waste dump as environmentally sensitive low income counties in Texas or Native American reservations in the west, the DOE will have succeeded in optimizing its search for a waste disposal site.  The current Consent Based Siting process violates the basic tenants of environmental justice.

Friday
Jul292016

NRDC: Response to DOE’s Invitation for Public Comment To Inform the Design of a Consent-Based Siting Process for Nuclear Waste Storage and Disposal Facilities

NRDC's logoNatural Resources Defense Council, Inc., (NRDC) has submitted its Response to DOE’s Invitation for Public Comment To Inform the Design of a Consent-Based Siting Process for Nuclear Waste Storage and Disposal Facilities to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

One of the authors of NRDC's Response, Geoffrey H. Fettus, NRDC Senior Attorney, served as legal counsel for an environmental coalition (including NRDC, Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Public Citizen, and others) from 2002 to 2004 that won a major legal victory against the proposed Yucca Mountain, Nevada high-level radioactive waste dump. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in Nuclear Energy Institute v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ruled in favor of the environmental coalition, and State of Nevada, and ordered EPA back to the drawing boards on its Yucca dump safety, health, and environmental protection regulations. The agency had tried to cut off regulations at 10,000 years, long before the hazard of the radioactivity waste would dissipate.

Four long years later, in 2008, EPA had finalized its court-ordered rewrite of the regulations. The agency acknowledged that high-level radioactive waste would remain hazardous for a million years, 100 times longer than EPA had first admitted. (Even this is an underestimate: Iodine-129, for example, present in irradiated nuclear fuel, has a half-life of 15.7 million years; its hazardous persistence, then, is 157 to 314 million years!)

The legal victory played a huge role in blocking the momentum of the Yucca Moutain dump during the George W. Bush administration. The Obama administration later cancelled the dump project as "unworkable," and U.S. Senator Harry Reid, Democratic Senate Leader from Nevada, successfully blocked any further funding for the highly controversial and scientifically unsuitable dump scheme.

Most recently, Fettus, on behalf of NRDC, worked with an environmental coalition (including Beyond Nuclear), and its legal counsel (Diane Curran and Mindy Goldstein), to challenge the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Nuclear Waste Confidence policy.

(After an adverse ruling by a three-judge panel on June 3, 2016, the environmental coalition on July 18th appealed its case to the full (en banc) U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.)

Wednesday
Jul272016

NIRS: Would You CONSENT to Nuclear Waste? Tell DOE "NO" to Fukushima Freeways.

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6930 Carroll Avenue, #340, Takoma Park, MD 20912; 301-270-6477; nirsnet@nirs.org; www.nirs.org

Would You CONSENT to Nuclear Waste?

Tell DOE "NO" to Fukushima Freeways.

July 27, 2016

Dear Friends,    

What would it take for you to consent to accept nuclear waste in your region? The Department of Energy (DOE) wants to know.

DOE has held 9 public meetings across the country this year, and is now taking written comments, on the concept of public “consent” to accept high-level radioactive waste.

Send DOE  your comment today: No more nuclear waste - No Fukushima Freeways!

After decades of trying to force-feed the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear dump down the throats of Nevadans and the Western Shoshone Nation, the DOE and nuclear proponents now want to know what it will take to get people to “consent,” or at least appear to consent, to take nuclear waste in their communities.

DOE acknowledges this is also “consent” to future nuclear waste production as part of setting up an “integrated waste management system.” The federal agency says that the future of nuclear energy in this country depends on this.

Tell DOE what you think of nuclear waste by clicking here.

DOE seeks public input on how to be FAIR, WHO to include in the consent process, and what RESOURCES it will take to induce community participation in the nation's radioactive waste program.

  • DOE wants to identify who adequately represents a community and will consent to take nuclear waste on its behalf.
  • DOE is not defining exactly what or how much nuclear waste we would be “consenting” or not consenting to accept.
  • And DOE is not asking how a community can refuse or express permanent “non-consent,” although you can let them know that if you choose to.

Although they have reports, diagrams of storage containers and systems, ideas and plans for the tens of thousands of tons of nuclear waste in this country, they claim to want to negotiate with communities who would “consent” to take it forever or supposedly temporarily.

Tell DOE what you think of nuclear waste by clicking here.

No consideration of the rights or consent of communities along transport routes is being made or requested. Although one of the greatest dangers to the most people, environments and ecosystems is the movement of tens of thousands of tons of nuclear waste on roads, rails and waterways, DOE has stated that there is complete federal preemption over transport of nuclear waste, so states and communities along the transport routes would have no voice, no matter how much waste DOE plans to move through them.
 
DOE is giving no consideration of the rights of future generations who will inevitably be affected.
 
DOE and the nuclear industry are eager for volunteering or consenting communities to take the waste and for the DOE to take title to it--absolving the industry of responsibility for managing the waste it creates before there is even a proven solution for its long-term management.

Thanks for all you do!

Mary Olson - Southeast Office Director
Diane D'Arrigo - Radioactive Waste Project Director

For More Information

NIRS Info Materials on Fukushima Freeways and Consolidated Storage

Talking Points on Consent-Based Siting from Beyond Nuclear

Click here to read a Federal Register notice that explains more about DOE's request for public comment on these issues. There is also information on this DOE website.

You can contact Diane D'Arrigo or Mary Olson at NIRS for more information about the other meetings and the issue generally.

Submit a Public Comment! We encourage everyone to submit your own thoughts on these issues to DOE. Comment deadline is July 31, 2016. Please send an email to consentbasedsiting@hq.doe.gov. Please include “Response to IPC” in the subject line.

Stay Informed:

NIRS on the web: http://www.nirs.org


GreenWorld: (NIRS' blog chronicling nuclear issues and the transition to a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system) http://www.safeenergy.org

NIRS on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nuclear-Information-and-Resource-Service/26490791479?sk=wall&filter=12

http://www.facebook.com/nonukesnirs

http://www.facebook.com/groups/nukefreeclimatefreemarch/

NIRS on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/nirsnet

NIRS on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/nirsnet

[This NIRS action alert, reproduced above, is also posted online here: http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5502/t/0/blastContent.jsp?email_blast_KEY=1369374 ]

Friday
Jul222016

Beyond Nuclear’s Top Ten List for Comments to DOE re: Irradiated Nuclear Fuel (High-Level Radioactive Waste)

  1. Stop making it. The only truly safe, sound, just solution for the radioactive waste problem, is to not make it in the first place. Electricity can be supplied by clean, safe, affordable renewable sources, such as wind and solar, and demand decreased significantly by efficiency, rather than generating radioactive waste via dirty, dangerous, and expensive nuclear power.
  2. Expedite the transfer of irradiated nuclear fuel from densely-packed “wet” storage pools into Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS) dry casks.
  3. Store irradiated nuclear fuel in HOSS dry casks, as safely and securely as possible, as close to the point of generation as possible, in a monitored, inspectable, retrievable manner.
  4. Given the unavoidable risks of high-level radioactive waste truck, train, and/or barge shipments on roads, rails, and/or waterways (Mobile Chernobyls, Dirty Bombs on Wheels, Floating Fukushimas), transport irradiated nuclear fuel only once, such as straight to a (suitable, acceptable, just) geological repository, not to so-called centralized interim storage (de facto permanent parking lot dumps, such as those currently targeted at Waste Control Specialists, LLC in Andrews County, west Texas; at Eddy-Lea Counties, near the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeast New Mexico; Native American reservations; nuclear power plants, such as Exelon's Dresden in Morris, IL; etc.).
  5. Geological repositories must be scientifically suitable (capable of isolating the hazardous high-level radioactive waste from the living environment forevermore), socially acceptable (genuinely consent-based), and environmentally just. Note that no such suitable/acceptable/just geologic repository has yet been found, in more than half a century of looking. DOE has admitted it can’t open any repository (even an unsuitable/unacceptable/unjust one) till 2048 at the earliest, more than a century after Enrico Fermi, in 1942, generated the first high-level radioactive waste, in the world’s first reactor, as part of the Manhattan Project to build atomic bombs; and more than 90 years years after the first “civilian” atomic reactor began generating waste at Shippingport, PA.
  6. Do not reprocess (extract fissile plutonium and/or uranium from) irradiated nuclear fuel. Not only would this risk nuclear weapons proliferation, and be astronomically expensive; it would also very likely cause environmental ruin downwind and downstream of wherever it is carried out, as has been shown at such places as Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington; Savannah River Site, South Carolina; West Valley, New York; Sellafield, England; La Hague, France; Kyshtym, Russia; etc.
  7. Preserve and maintain “wet” storage pools – albeit emptied of irradiated nuclear fuel -- as an emergency back up location for cask-to-cask HOSS transfers, when old HOSS casks deteriorate toward failure, and need to be replaced with brand new HOSS casks. That is, do not dismantle pools as part of nuclear power plant decommissioning post-reactor shutdown.
  8. Carefully pass information about storing irradiated nuclear fuel as safely as possible, as close to the point of generation as possible, from one generation to the next, à la the concept of “Rolling Stewardship” described by the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.
  9. Address the shortfall in funding for forevermore storage of high-level radioactive waste. Dr. Mark Cooper of Vermont Law School has estimated the first 200 years of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel storage (assuming just a single repository, although at least two will be required!) will cost $210 to $350 billion, even though there is only some tens of billions of dollars remaining in the now-terminated Nuclear Waste Fund, collected from nuclear power ratepayers.
  10. Environmental justice, in keeping with Bill Clinton's 1994 Executive Order 12898, demands that Native American communities and lands, as well as those of other low income and/or people of color communities, never again be targeted for high-level radioactive waste parking lot dumps or permanent burial sites, a shameful form of radioactive racism dating back decades in the U.S.

Speak now (before the July 31 deadline for public comments), or forever hold your peace, regarding Mobile Chernobyls through a town near you...de facto permanent parking lot dumps for high-level radioactive waste...and permanent burial dumps for high-level radioactive waste on scientifically unsuitable, socially unacceptable, and/or environmentally unjust (radioactively racist) locations!

Also see Beyond Nuclear's two-page and 13-page versions of the "We Do NOT Consent!" talking points, for more detail.