BEYOND NUCLEAR PUBLICATIONS
Search
JOIN OUR NETWORK

     

     

 

 

ARTICLE ARCHIVE

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.

.................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Thursday
Jun132019

Beyond Nuclear media release: Proposed bills, to dump radioactive waste on Nevada, New Mexico, and/or Texas, are outrageous, and must be blocked

NEWS FROM BEYOND NUCLEAR

For immediate release: June 13, 2019

Contact: Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Specialist, Beyond Nuclear,
(240) 462-3216, kevin@beyondnuclear.org

Proposed bills, to dump radioactive waste on Nevada, New Mexico, and/or Texas, are outrageous, and must be blocked


Yucca repository in NV, consolidated interim storage facilities in TX and/or NM, would launch Mobile Chernobyl shipments, through most states, for decades

TAKOMA PARK, MD -- Statement by Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Specialist at Beyond Nuclear, Re: U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee/Environment & Climate Change Subcommittee, “Hearing on Cleaning Up Communities: Ensuring Safe Storage and Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel”:

As stated in our letter for the record of the hearing, we object to H.R. 2699, the “Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2019,” just as we objected to last session’s similar, to identical, H.R. 3053. This dangerously bad bill advocates for the scientifically unsuitable Yucca Mountain dump, which is neither consent-based, nor environmentally just – nor even legal, given Western Shoshone Indian title to land and water, per the “peace and friendship” 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley, signed by the U.S. government, the highest law of the land, equal in stature to the U.S. Constitution itself. In opposing the Yucca dump, we join with well over a thousand environmental and environmental justice organizations which have expressed similar opposition to the Yucca dump over the past 32 years, ever since the “Screw Nevada” bill of 1987.

We also oppose the “Spent Fuel Prioritization Act of 2019,” H.R. 2995. Why would a relatively recently shut down nuclear power plant, like San Onofre in California, and even still operating atomic reactors, as at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in California, get to cut in line, in regards to high-level radioactive waste export shipments? Big Rock Point in Michigan, as an example, has been shut down since 1997. Yankee Rowe in Massachusetts shut down in 1992. There are a dozen or two reactors in this country that shut down prior to San Onofre Units 2 and 3, which shut in 2013. What ever happened to the "oldest fuel first" policy?! California reactors should not be allowed to cut in line. They are not the only ones in the country at risk of earthquakes, tsunamis, rising seas, and other disaster risks.

As the environmental movement has called for since 2002, Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS) of high-level radioactive waste should be implemented. If not on-site, then as near to the site of generation as is safely possible. For example, San Onofre’s high-level radioactive wastes could be moved a few miles east, deeper into the heart of Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base. This would remove the wastes from the earthquake fault line area, from the tsunami zone, away from rising seas – with the added bonus of thousands of U.S. Marines to help guard them. This, rather than ship San Onofre’s waste a thousand miles to the east, to New Mexico and/or Texas, for “interim storage,” from where they would someday (or some decade, or some century) have to be moved yet again – to where, we know not – instantly doubling transport risks, for no good reason.

 We also oppose the “STORE Nuclear Fuel Act of 2019,” H.R. 3136. This bill would make legal the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) taking title (ownership) of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel at a privately owned consolidated interim storage facility (CISF), such as those currently targeted at New Mexico by Holtec International/Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance, and at Texas by Waste Control Specialists/Interim Storage Partners. Besides the environmental injustice, or radioactive racism, inherent in targeting a majority Hispanic region with the deadliest radioactive wastes in the U.S., there is also the pollution burden already borne by these communities, due to intensive nuclear and fossil fuel industrial activities.

But in addition, as New Mexico Governor Michele Lujan Grisham wrote in a letter to Energy Secretary Perry, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Svinicki, just last week, the lack of a permanent repository means that “consolidated interim” risks becoming de facto permanent, surface storage. The U.S. Department of Energy itself warned in its Feb. 2002 Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Yucca Mountain dump, that high-level radioactive waste, abandoned at the surface of the land, given loss of institutional control, and inevitable degradation and failure of containers over long enough time periods, would result in catastrophic releases of hazardous radioactivity to the environment. This could happen on-site at reactors, but it could also happen away-from-reactor, as at CISFs in New Mexico and/or Texas. Due to such risks, the governor of New Mexico has communicated clearly to decision makers that her state does not consent to taking on such risks. Secretary Perry’s statement in response to a question from U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, at a House Budget Committee hearing in late March, that “interim” becoming permanent in west Texas would be fine by him, and by west Texans, shows that Secretary Perry is not even familiar with his own department’s warnings about the high risks of containers failing in the future, causing catastrophic radioactivity releases downwind, downstream, up the food chain, and down the generations.

The common theme of all these dangerously bad bills, that would rush open a permanent repository at Yucca Mountain, and/or CISFs in New Mexico and/or Texas, is the transportation risks.

  Our country needs to avoid radioactive waste wrecks, both figurative – of policy – as well as literal, on our roads, rails, and waterways. We need to just say no to unwise irradiated nuclear fuel transport, storage, and disposal schemes, that have more to do with offloading nuclear utilities’ liabilities onto the public, than on protecting health, safety, and the environment. Transporting high-level radioactive waste by truck, train, and barge, through most states and the District of Columbia, scores of major cities, and the vast majority of U.S. congressional districts, would take unnecessary risks of Mobile Chernobyls, Floating Fukushimas, and Dirty Bombs on Wheels.

-30-

Beyond Nuclear aims to educate and activate the public about the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons and the need to abolish both to safeguard our future. Beyond Nuclear advocates for an energy future that is sustainable, benign and democratic. The Beyond Nuclear team works with diverse partners and allies to provide the public, government officials, and the media with the critical information necessary to move humanity toward a world beyond nuclear. Beyond Nuclear: 7304 Carroll Avenue, #182, Takoma Park, MD 20912. Info@beyondnuclear.org. www.beyondnuclear.org.

Wednesday
Jun122019

Press Advisory: At House Subcommittee Hearing on Nuclear Waste, Advocates Oppose Pending Legislation Which Would Trigger Shipments of Radioactive Waste Across the U.S.

Source:  Nuclear Information and Resource Service www.nirs.org  301-270-6477

MEDIA ALERT/INVITE TO COVER/INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITIES

Contact:  Stephen Kent, skent@kentcom.com 914-589-5988

At House Subcommittee Hearing on Nuclear Waste, Advocates Oppose Pending Legislation Which Would Trigger Shipments of Radioactive Waste Across the U.S.

WHAT?  Tomorrow, June 13 at 10am the Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a legislative hearing on nuclear waste issues entitled  “Cleaning Up Communities: Ensuring Safe Storage and Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel.”  It will hear testimony from Department of Energy officials, industry and NGO experts on three pending bills:
These bills would impact communities in [75%] of Congressional districts, including those with nuclear power reactors, those targeted for nuclear waste sites, and those along proposed waste transport routes. The bills could facilitate licensing of nuclear waste storage facilities, whether Yucca Mountain in Nevada or consolidated “interim” storage (CIS) sites in southeastern New Mexico and west Texas.  They could also lead to thousands of shipments of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel via train, truck and barge to those sites. 

But the problem, according to several citizens’ groups that today submitted letters for the hearing record opposing the bills, is that offsite nuclear waste transport and storage is unworkable and fraught with unacceptable risks of radioactive release.  The approach is championed by the nuclear industry because it’s convenient and profitable for licensees, shifting liability to taxpayers before there is permanent disposal.  But it won’t protect public health and safety, opponents say.  It involves transport of intensely radioactive waste to inadequate facilities, inside transport casks loaded with hundreds of times the quantity of lethal isotopes released by the Hiroshima bomb.  Since the proposed storage destinations cannot isolate the waste, even if we incur the perils of transporting it, we would be no closer to a workable, permanent solution. 

WHO?  The following NGO leaders and issue experts are engaging the June 13 hearing by testifying, attending and/or submitting letters for the record.  They and others are available for comment and interviews on the three bills and the issues raised at the hearing:

 

 Diane D’Arrigo, Radioactive Waste Project Director, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, attending the hearing.

Geoff Fettus, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council.  In testimony prepared for the June 13 hearing, he wrote, “Enacting [the legislation] on offer today would immediately precipitate a welter of controversy and litigation from the potential recipient states, which will result in no progress toward a solution and years more rancor.”

Paul Gunter, Director, Reactor Oversight Project, Beyond Nuclear, attending the hearing.

Tim Judson,  Executive Director, Nuclear Information and Resource Service.  In a submission today for the hearing record, he wrote, “We oppose HR 2699, Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2019, because it restarts licensing of the Yucca Mountain site which is fatally flawed…  We oppose HR 2699 and HR 3136 because they legalize Consolidated “Interim” Storage… of irradiated nuclear fuel. The reason Congress deemed CIS…sites illegal is that they would likely become de-facto permanent without meeting conditions for permanent waste isolation.”

Kevin Kamps,  Radioactive Waste Specialist, Beyond Nuclear. In a submission today for the hearing record, he wrote,  “Our country needs to avoid radioactive waste wrecks, both figurative – of policy – as well as literal, on our roads, rails, and waterways. We need to just say no to unwise irradiated nuclear fuel transport, storage, and disposal schemes, that have more to do with offloading nuclear utilities’ liabilities onto the public, than on protecting health, safety, and the environment. Transporting high-level radioactive waste by truck, train, and barge, through 44 states and the District of Columbia…would take unnecessary risks, and violate consent-based and environmental justice principles.”

Dave Kraft, Director, Nuclear Energy and Information Service.   In a submission today for the hearing record, he wrote, “At the recent May 2019 Congressional Briefing, “Decommissioning: A New Era in the U.S. Nuclear Power Industry; a Critical Need for Congressional Oversight,” former NRC Chair Greg Jaczko stated: ‘[CIS] is essentially de facto PERMANENT storage, because once fuel moves, it will be hard to move it somewhere else.’…  An alternative proposal for the storage of HLRW has been called “HOSS” – ‘hardened, on-site storage.’  This technique has been employed successfully internationally, obviates the need for the redundant transportation of the HLRW while safely storing the wastes at reactor sites.”
Janet Tauro, New Jersey Board Chair of Clean Water Action. In a submission today for the hearing record, she wrote, “A permanent solution to nuclear waste storage has never been found and is unlikely to occur in the near future. We are left with choosing a least bad option. We agree with our colleagues…that Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS) to higher ground away from rising seas and worsening storm surges should be seriously considered for coastal areas until a permanent repository is established. Moving the waste thousands of miles out West to a temporary facility from which it would have to be moved again doubles the risk of a catastrophic accident.”
Nancy Vann, President, Safe Energy Rights Group

 

WHEN & WHERE?  The hearing on “Cleaning Up Communities: Ensuring Safe Storage and Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel” takes place Thursday, June 13, 2019 at 10:00am in Room 2322, Rayburn House Office Building.  It will also be livestreamed hereThe sources listed above are available for interviews on request.  To request interviews, copies of submissions for the hearing record, or other information, please contact:  Stephen Kent, skent@kentcom.com 914-589-5988
 
 
Wednesday
Jun122019

Still no long-term storage for radioactive waste

Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Watchdog from the group “Beyond Nuclear“, talks about their latest efforts to prevent several “consolidated interim storage” sites in New Mexico and Texas.

As reported by 89.9 WORT, community radio in Madison, WI.

Tuesday
Jun112019

U.S. House Panel to Discuss Spent Fuel Bills

As reported by the ExchangeMonitor.

See the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee/Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change's post about the June 13th hearing, here. (A Livestream posted at that same link goes live at 10am, Thurs., June 13.)

Witness testimony that has been posted thus far includes that from:

Robert J. Halstead
Executive Director
State of Nevada, Office of the Governor, Agency for Nuclear Projects

Testimony

Geoffrey H. Fettus
Senior Attorney, Nuclear, Climate, and Clean Energy Program
Natural Resources Defense Council

Testimony

Friday
Jun072019

House panel highlights risks over nuclear-storage stalemate

As reported by AP.

Regarding high-level radioactive waste shipping risks, Don Hancock of Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico is quoted as saying in the article:

Building a long-term storage site would lead to another question: How would the radioactive waste get there from nuclear power plants?

“There is not consensus about health and safety standards, including whether commercial spent fuel is safe where it is,” said Don Hancock of the Southwest Research and Information Center, a nonprofit watchdog group. “If it is safe where it is, why move it? If it’s not safe where it is, how can it be safe to transport through many other communities?”

If opened, the Yucca Mountain permanent repository, on Western Shoshone Indian land in Nevada, would result in more than 12,000 road, rail, and waterway shipments of irradiated nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste through 44 states, many major cities, and 75% of U.S. congressional districts. 

So-called "consolidated interim" storage sites, as targeted at Hispanic communities of the New Mexico/Texas border area, would result in significantly more shipments than that. 

Yucca's current legal limit is 70,000 metric tons of highly radioactive wastes. But the CISF proposed by Holtec in NM would "store" 173,600 MT; the CISF proposed by Interim Storage Partners at Waste Control Specialists in TX would store an additional 40,000 MT. Both CISFs taken together would represent three times the amount of highly radioactive waste as at Yucca. The number of shipments would thus be three times larger, as well. And that's just to get the waste to TX/NM. If truly "temporary," the waste would have to leave again (no one knows where to), so the already high transport risks of CISFs would then be doubled.