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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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Monday
Jun062016

Beyond Nuclear response to U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit panel ruling in NY v. NRC II, the Nuclear Waste Confidence Lawsuit

News from Beyond Nuclear

For Immediate Release, June 6, 2016

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

Media Statement by Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear’s Radioactive Waste Watchdog, in Response to U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Panel Ruling in New York v. Nuclear Regulatory Commission II,

the Nuclear Waste Confidence Lawsuit:

“We are sorely disappointed by Friday’s ruling. The court did not seem to understand the very sound and forceful arguments our coalition of environmental organizations was making.

Our lawyers are reviewing Friday’s decision. We have options for moving ahead, and we expect a recommendation from our lawyers shortly about next steps. 

Suffice it for now to say, we will continue our efforts to demand the government address the very serious environmental risks posed by atomic reactor operation and highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel generation.

Irradiated nuclear fuel remains hazardous for a million years, as acknowledged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in its Yucca Mountain dump regulations. Exposure to highly radioactive nuclear waste, even decades after removal from an operating reactor core, at close range and with no radiation shielding, can deliver a fatal dose of gamma radiation in just minutes.

The timing of the court’s ruling is ironic. Just a couple weeks ago, a National Academies of Sciences (NAS) ‘Fukushima Lessons Learned’ panel reported that high-level radioactive waste storage pools in the U.S. are at high-risk of catastrophic fires, whether due to accident, natural disaster, or terrorist attack. In fact, such a mega-catastrophe was very narrowly avoided at Fukushima Daiichi, by sheer luck, the NAS panel reported.

These findings affirm a 2004 NAS report, prompted by the 9/11 attacks (the 2004 report was classified; a redacted public version was made available in 2006, but only after extended interference by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NRC). Despite the alarming findings and urgent recommendations of these NAS reports, the NRC has taken little to no action to address the risks.

Just days after the recent NAS report was published, Princeton researchers, Drs. Frank von Hippel and Michael Schoeppner, using state-of-the-art meteorological computer modeling, confirmed that an American irradiated nuclear fuel storage pool fire could release such catastrophic amounts of hazardous cesium-137, that it would dwarf the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe by comparison.

These are the very kinds of warnings our environmental coalition’s expert witness, Dr. Gordon Thompson of Institute for Resource and Security Studies, has made throughout this entire Nuclear Waste Confidence proceeding. In fact, Dr. Thompson co-authored a cutting edge January 2003 study on pool fire risks, by Alvarez et al. (including Von Hippel), which played a key role in prompting the 2004 NAS study in the first place.

Robert Alvarez emphasized this warning about pool fire risks in a May 2011 report, published in the aftermath of the beginning of the ongoing Fukushima nuclear catastrophe.

At standing room only hearings held across the country in 2013, countless hundreds of concerned citizens echoed these warnings, during NRC’s Nuclear Waste Confidence Environmental Impact Statement public comment period. NRC consistently ignoring such repeated warnings imperils us all.

Another co-author of the 2003 Alvarez et al. report, Dr. Allison Macfarlane, later served as NRC Chairman, from 2012 to 2014. Not only did Chairman Macfarlane vote for the expedited transfer of irradiated nuclear fuel, from pools to dry casks, as a needed safety and security upgrade; she also warned, in her Nuclear Waste Confidence vote itself, that institutional control over interim high-level radioactive waste surface storage facilities will eventually be lost over time, by definition.

In fact, that is an essential reason deep geologic disposal is the international scientific and policy consensus for long-term high-level radioactive waste management and isolation from the environment. Both NRC and even the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in its Final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed dumpsite at Yucca Mountain, Nevada (February 2002), have acknowledged that loss of institutional control at high-level radioactive waste surface storage facilities would result in catastrophic releases of hazardous radioactivity. 

It is very troubling that NRC has simply assumed that institutional control can be maintained at surface storage facilities forevermore, and that the court has endorsed such dangerously false confidence and high-risk technological hubris.

Beyond Nuclear repeats its call for the generation of high-level radioactive waste to be stopped. Dirty, dangerous and expensive nuclear power must be phased out, as soon as possible, and replaced with clean, safe, and affordable energy efficiency and renewable sources of electricity, such as wind and solar power.

The announcements of impending closure dates for several atomic reactors in recent days and weeks – Fort Calhoun, NE by the end of this year, Clinton, IL by mid-2017, and Quad Cities 1 and 2, IL by mid-2018 – is most welcome news. The end of reactor operations marks the end of high-level radioactive waste generation. Not making irradiated fuel in the first place, is the only truly safe, sound solution.

For the nearly 75,000 metric tons of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel that has been generated in the U.S. since 1957, Beyond Nuclear joins with many hundreds of environmental groups nationwide, representing every state, in calling for Hardened On-Site Storage as an alternative to high-risk pool storage, to high-risk transport to centralized interim storage sites, as well as to scientifically unsuitable, non-consent-based deep geologic repositories, as at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

As Beyond Nuclear founding board member, Dr. Judith Johnsrud (1931-2014) of the Environmental Coalition on Nuclear Power in State College, Pennsylvania, put it, radioactive waste may well be a “trans-solutional” problem, a problem we have created that is beyond our technological ability to solve.

And as Beyond Nuclear board member, Kay Drey of St. Louis, Missouri, has put it, we now have a mountain of radioactive waste 74 years high, and we don’t even know what to do with the first cupful. It’s time to stop making it.

--30—

Note: Beyond Nuclear is a named party of record in the NY v. NRC II appeal. Beyond Nuclear thus has had the honor of representing environmental coalitions engaged in various NRC licensing proceedings, including: the Davis-Besse, Ohio license extension proceeding (other intervening groups include Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don’t Waste Michigan, and the Ohio Green Party); the Fermi 2, Michigan license extension proceeding (Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Citizens Resistance at Fermi 2, and Don’t Waste Michigan also joined the intervention); and the Fermi 3, Michigan proposed new reactor combined Construction and Operating License Application (COLA) proceeding (other intervening groups include Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don’t Waste Michigan, and Sierra Club Michigan Chapter). In all three proceedings, attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo, Ohio served as the environmental coalitions’ legal counsel.

Hyperlinks to References:

June 3, 2016 court ruling

2016 NAS report

2006 NAS report

Princeton study

Gordon Thompson expert witness report

Alvarez et al., 2003

Alvarez, 2011

Macfarlane 2014 expedited transfer vote

DOE Yucca FEIS

HOSS principles

Wednesday
Jun012016

DOE in Boston seeking “consent-based siting” of nuke dumps, roads, rails and waterways: We Do Not Consent!

On June 2, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) holds an evening live webcast of a public meeting in Boston, MA, the sixth such meeting this year in the United States, to test public sentiment for the “consent-based siting” of deep geological burial of high-level nuclear waste from the nation’s nuclear power stations. More immediately, the federal energy agency is looking for volunteers to be the indefinite and potentially permanent willing host to thousands of radioactive waste casks on fenced parking lots for the questionable future for licensing and building nuclear dumps and designate the hazardous transport routes from nuclear stations by road, rail and barge. DOE's current priority is to open "centralized interim storage" sites by 2021, which would launch Mobile Chernobyls onto the roads, rails, and waterways of most states, including into the Port of Boston itself.

The DOE was last in New England beginning in the Fall of 1985 and by contrast looking for the nuclear industry’s dump site by “eminent domain.”  The granite formations of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire came under the scrutiny of government and industry for the deep geological burial of at least 70,000 metric tons of dangerous irradiated fuel from nuclear generating stations. The DOE had already declared Texas, Nevada and Washington State as the candidate sites for the nation’s first nuclear waste repository. In January 1986, DOE officials announced the government singled out twelve sites for a second waste repository east of the Mississippi River including the crystalline rock bodies under Hillsborough, New Hampshire and several more neighboring Yankee towns for a 20,000 surface acre “national sacrifice area” and two more large granite sites in Maine.  

That earlier DOE plan did not work out by popular demand. By March 1986, there were 130 of New Hampshire’s 224 towns petitioning warrant articles before the state’s centuries old local town hall meeting process to oppose the siting of a nuclear waste dump in the Granite State. Of those towns, 100 towns voted more “to oppose the burial, storage, transportation and production of high-level nuclear waste” in the State of New Hampshire.  The broad majority of an informed, even conservative state citizenry made the ethical connection between not wanting to take and not wanting to make dangerous nuclear waste.

The DOE was similarly met by adamant and popular public opposition throughout New England as well as the rest of a nation that had just witnessed the technological disaster with the Challenger Space Shuttle explosion and soon the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe in Ukraine and across Europe. By December 2007 Congress and the DOE suspended the search for a second repository and singled out Yucca Mountain with the “Screw Nevada Bill.” 

Nearly a decade later, a $9 billion dry hole in a seismically active and defunded Yucca Mt., the DOE and Congress are on the hunt again to do the nuclear industry’s bidding.  Your comments and opposition is needed to make that first and most responsible step in long-term management of nuclear waste---Stop Making It!

You can read our suggested talking points and file your comments to the DOE by July 31, 2016.  We Do Not Consent!

Sunday
May292016

Next DOE "Consent-Based Siting" public meeting: Boston, MA, Thurs., June 2nd

Announcement from DOE:

On Thursday June 2nd, the Department of Energy will host a public meeting in Boston on designing a consent-based process to site facilities needed to manage our nation’s nuclear waste. The Department is seeking diverse viewpoints to strengthen the design of its consent-based siting process. We hope to hear from you on issues such as:

·         fairness

·         models and experience to draw from

·         the roles of communities, states, Tribal Nations, and others in consent-based siting

·         information and resources needed to achieve informed consent

·         other perspectives and values the Department should consider

Ultimately, based on your input, the Department will design a proposed process for developing a site, which will in turn serve as a framework for collaborating with potential host communities in the future.

The public meeting will be held at the Hyatt Regency Boston from 5:00 PM until 9:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time. Registration is encouraged in order to assist logistics planning. To register, please visit this registration page. Those unable to attend in person can view the meeting online through a live webcast. For more information, please visit our website at energy.gov/consentbasedsiting.

We look forward to your participation and hope to see you soon!

 

John Kotek

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

Tuesday
May242016

We do NOT consent: DOE's so-called "Consent-Based Siting" meeting in Denver, May 24th

See the full video recording of the DOE's so-called "Consent-Based Siting" meeting in Denver on May 24th at this link:

http://energy.gov/ne/downloads/consent-based-siting-public-meeting-denver-may-24-2016

See particularly the 1:03:36 mark, where Mervyn Tano of the International Institute of Indigenous Resource Management, based in Denver, CO, expresses a "we do NOT consent" position.

Wednesday
May182016

"We do NOT CONSENT!" Sample talking points you can use to prepare your own, to DOE, opposing the Yucca dump, parking lot dumps, and Mobile Chernobyls

Beyond Nuclear has prepared sample talking points, entitled WE DO NOT CONSENT!, that you can use to prepare your own public comments, for submission to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in opposition to high-risk, high-level radioactive waste shipments (by road, rail, and/or waterway) to Yucca Mountain, Nevada, as well as to "centralized interim storage sites" (de facto permanent parking lot dumps).

Full length (13-page) version: Beyond Nuclear's WE DO NOT CONSENT! sample talking points are available in both PDF format, as well as Word format (with live URL links).

Short summary (2-page) version: PDF format, and Word format (with live URL links).

Please feel free to use one or more of the sample talking points (verbatim, or adapted to your own words) to prepare your own public comments, and then submit them to DOE by its July 31, 2016 deadline. Express your strong opposition to the Yucca dump, to parking lot dumps, and to Mobile Chernobyls/Floating Fukushimas/Dirty Bombs on Wheels! And please, spread the word.