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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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Friday
Mar182016

Department of Energy Consent-based Siting Public Meeting in Chicago on March 29, 2016

Message emailed by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy to environmental watchdogs on March 18, 2016:

On March 29th, in downtown Chicago, the Department of Energy will host the first of eight public meetings around the country on its consent-based siting initiative for facilities needed to manage our nation’s nuclear waste.  We hope to hear from the public, communities, states, Tribal governments, and others on what matters to you as the Department moves forward in developing a consent-based process for siting facilities needed to store, transport, and dispose of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.

This first meeting will be held at the University of Chicago Gleacher Center, from 12 noon until 6:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time. The program will include a presentation from senior DOE officials and a panel session with several experts providing diverse perspectives on the main issues that need to be resolved in the design of a consent-based process.  Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions to the Department and panelists as well as make public comments at the end of the meeting. 

The Department of Energy is interested in hearing your views on:

  • How can the Department ensure that the process for selecting a site is fair?
  • What models and experience should the Department use in designing the process?
  • Who should be involved in the process for selecting a site, and what is their role?
  • What information and resources do you think would facilitate your participation?
  • What else should be considered?

In addition, DOE has published an Invitation for Public Comment in the Federal Register seeking input on these same questions.  The input provided through this notice and the eight public meetings will inform the design of consent-based siting process, which will in turn serve as a framework for engaging with potential host communities in the future.  Ultimately, DOE aims to work collaboratively with the public and interested communities to begin identifying potential partners in managing the nation’s spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.  You can read the Department’s news release here.

Registration is encouraged in order to assist our logistics planning.  To register, please visit the Chicago Registration Page.  Those unable to attend can view the meeting online through a live webcast that can be accessed through the registration page or the direct link Chicago Webcast.  Unfortunately remote viewers will not be able to ask live questions or participate in the discussions through the webcast in order to maximize opportunities for in-person attendees.  DOE plans to hold a national webinar in the coming months to accommodate those unable to attend the public meetings in person, and we will post information on our website when it becomes available.  Following the meeting, all materials including a transcript and video will be posted on our website energy.gov/consentbasedsiting.

We look forward to your participation and hope to see you in Chicago!

John Kotek

Acting Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy, U.S. Department of Energy

See the Chicago flier that was attached to the email. Also see the Chicago agenda that was attached to the email.

Thursday
Mar172016

NIRS: What would it take for YOU to CONSENT to Nuclear Waste? DOE wants to know

Environmental coalition members from the Crabshell Alliance, Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Campaign, NIRS, PSR, NEIS, and Public Citizen "just say NO!" at the NRC HQ nuke waste con game public comment meeting on 11/14/13 in Rockville, MD. Photo credit David Martin and Erica Grey.Our friends and colleagues at NIRS put out the following action alert on March 10, 2016:

The US Dept. of Energy (DOE) is holding 8 Public Meetings and taking written comments on

“CONSENTING” to TAKE NUCLEAR WASTE

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 want to know what it will take to get people to consent or appear to consent to take nuclear waste.

DOE openly acknowledges this is “consent” to future nuclear waste production as part of the “integrated waste management system.” They say that the future of nuclear energy in this country depends on this.

Meetings will be held from noon or 1 PM to ~ 5PM

CHICAGO, IL           March 29, 2016           University of Chicago Conference Center    

ATLANTA, GA          April 11, 2016             Georgia Institute of Technology Conference Center

SACRAMENTO, CA   April 26, 2016 (Chernobyl+30)         5-9:30PM Pacific, Holiday Inn Capitol Plaza, 300 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

[The following DATES were not included in NIRS' action alert on March 10th; later that very same day, however, a DOE spokesman at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Regulatory Information Conference, during the "Spent Fuel - Perspectives on Interim Consolidated Storage" workshop session, confirmed the following dates, but still not the exact locations, other than the city and state.]

DENVER, CO           Late May, 2016           Exact location yet to be announced

BOSTON, MA           Early June, 2016         Exact location yet to be announced

TEMPE, AZ              Late June, 2016          Exact location yet to be announced

BOISE, ID               Mid-July, 2016            Exact location yet to be announced

MINNEAPOLIS, MN       Late July, 2016       Exact location yet to be announced

DOE seeks our input on how to be FAIR, WHO to include, what RESOURCES it will take to induce participation.

They want to identify who adequately represents a community and will “consent” or claim to agree to take nuclear waste.

They are not defining exactly what or how much nuclear waste we would be “consenting” or not consenting to accept.

They are 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.

NO CONSIDERATION OF THE RIGHTS OR CONSENT OF THOSE 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 stated at its Washington DC ‘kickoff’ meeting that there is complete federal preemption over transport of nuclear waste so that would not be part of the process.

There is NO Consideration of the rights of future generations who will inevitably be affected.

The nuclear industry is eager for volunteers or consenting communities to take the waste and for the US Department of Energy to take title to it.

Meetings will be in 8 US CITIES from MARCH TO JULY 2016.

Comment deadline [had been] June 15*, 2016; email to consentbasedsiting@hq.doe.gov.  Please include “Response to IPC” [which stands for "Invitation for Public Comment"] in the subject line.

[*But sure enough, DOE has been extended to July 31, 2016: DOE is extending the comment period for the "Invitation for Public Comment to Inform the Design of a Consent-Based Siting Process for Nuclear Waste Storage and Disposal Facilities'' to July 31, 2016. See the Federal Register Notice, dated March 22, 2016.]

DETAILS:

Federal Register Notice:

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/12/23/2015-32346/invitation-for-public-comment-to-inform-the-design-of-a-consent-based-siting-process-for-nuclear

DOE website for more of their information and to REGISTER for MEETINGS: http://www.energy.gov/ne/consent-based-siting

Info coming soon at www.nirs.org at Stop Fukushima Freeways

More info: dianed@nirs.org; after March 21  maryo@nirs.org; For Chicago meeting neis@neis.org

(See Beyond Nuclear's web post from January 2016, immediately following DOE's Washington, D.C. "Kick-Off" meeting for its "Consent-Based Siting" public comment proceeding (which, by the way, included NO oral public comment opportunity! Supposedly, future public meetings listed above WILL include an oral public comment opportunity -- that is the whole point! But we will see. Another disconnect that still has to be resolved is, public comment meetings are scheduled for AFTER the deadline for public comment -- so DOE must extend the public comment deadline until at least all scheduled meetings are finished and done!)

Wednesday
Mar162016

Supreme Court Nominee, Merrick Garland, ruled Yucca dump's revival "the doing of a useless act"

Appeals court judge Merrick Garland is nominated for Supreme Court justice at the Rose Garden on Wednesday. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images As reported by Nina Totenberg on National Public Radio, President Obama has nominated U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Chief Judge, Merrick Garland (photo, left), to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court left by the death of Antonin Scalia.

As reported by NPR, Garland has been a "persuasive voice for liberals" on environmental issues. In summer 2013, he penned a dissenting position when two Republican judges out-voted him, ordering the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to revive its licensing proceeding for the Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste dump proposal, even though there was very little remaining funding to do so. Garland called it "the doing of a useless act."

President Obama wisely cancelled the Yucca dump in 2010, citing it as "unworkable." Republicans in Congress, including U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), and Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL), are still pushing hard to open the Yucca dump, over the State of Nevada's, and the Western Shoshone Indian Nation's, objections.

Despite the 2-1 D.C. Court of Appeals split decision ordering NRC to resume its Yucca licensing proceeding, the scant funding only allowed a few Safety Evaluation Reports (SERs) to be completed. One acknowledged a showstopper: the U.S. Department of Energy lacks clear title to the lands, and water rights, needed to proceed with the dump. Nevada has no inclination to grant them. The scant Yucca funding left in NRC's coffers in 2013 is now almost entirely expended, allowing no further licensing work to take place on the dismantled project.

 

Friday
Feb192016

Beyond Nuclear thankful for indefinite delay on Great Lakes nuclear waste dump, vows to redouble efforts to nip the "DUD" in the bud

The Great Lakes serve as the drinking water supply for 40 million people in eight U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations.The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Canada's federal Environment Minister, has announced a major delay in the approval process for Ontario Power Generation's request to construct and operate a radioactive waste dump on the shoreline of the Great Lakes. Previously, Minister McKenna had set a March 1st deadline for making the final decision on whether or not to endorse a Joint Review Panel Environmental Assessment Report recommendation to allow the DGR (Deep Geologic Repository) to proceed, despite the high risks and countless uncertainties. Minister McKenna has ordered OPG to provide an estimate, by April 18th, as to how long it will need to provide the extensive additional information requested. The consequent delay in this proceeding could prove lengthy.

Beyond Nuclear, which has long helped lead the growing international national grassroots environmental opposition to the dump (which we prefer to call the DUD -- for Deep Underground Dump -- a phrase coined by Dave Martin of Greenpeace Canada), welcomed the announced delay. Beyond Nuclear released this response to Minister McKenna's announcement.

However, our coalition must remain vigilant, and use this opportunity to stop the DUD once and for all. And then move on to deepening and expanding our work to address the many other radioactive risks faced by the Great Lakes, including at the targeted DUD site itself: the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, the largest nuclear power plant on Earth, in terms of number of reactors. More.

Wednesday
Feb032016

U.S. Senate approves bill to put Army Corps in charge of West Lake landfill

This radiation warning sign is one of many posted on the chain link fence surrounding part of the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton. Credit Sarah Skiold-Hanlin | St. Louis Public RadioAs reported by St. Louis Public Radio, the U.S. Senate has passed a bill, S. 2306, transferring oversight authority from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE), for the West Lake Landfill Manhattan Project-era radioactive wastes illegally dumped there.

Concerned local residents and environmental groups, from Just Moms STL to Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE), have long called for the transfer to ACE, for the dangerous wastes to be remediated, rather than just capped and abandoned in place, as long proposed by EPA.

As documented by a 1989 St. Louis Post-Dispatch multi-part, front page investigative series by Caroline Bower, as well as a Dec. 12, 1990 article in The Riverfront Times, very active citizen watch-dogging has persisted for decades.

The 1990 Riverfront Times article quotes Beyond Nuclear board member Kay Drey of St. Louis, who has long been deeply concerned about the potential for catastrophic flooding at West Lake Landfill, as it is located in the Missouri River flood plain.

In 2015, Kay published a pamphlet, warning about the risks to the drinking water supply of metro St. Louis. It includes a map, showing that the radioactive wastes at West Lake Landfill are upstream of the drinking water intakes for North County and the City of St. Louis, on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.

For the past several years, concern has deepened over an underground fire at an adjacent garbage dump, slowly burning its way towards West Lake Landfill's buried radioactive wastes. Just Moms STL, MCE, and others' tireless organizing have succeeded in garnering extensive local and national media coverage. Fox 2 Now interviewed Just Moms leader, Dawn Chapman of Bridgeton, regarding the successful passage of the U.S. Senate bill.

In a recent edition of the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, Beyond Nuclear board member Lucas Hixson co-authored a study confirming that radium and uranium had migrated off-site from West Lake Landfill, into neighboring communities.

The U.S. House now picks up the matter, with a companion bill introduced before the Energy and Commerce Committee.