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.



Pilgrim’s Progress: Inside the American Nuclear-Waste Crisis

As reported by Gregg Levine and Caroline Preston in The New Yorker.

The article quotes Beyond Nuclear: One option is consolidated interim storage. Under this plan, the spent fuel would be moved from plants in thirty states to a handful of regional, aboveground storage facilities—what Kevin Kamps, a waste specialist at the watchdog Beyond Nuclear, has called “parking-lot dumps.”


NRC to Hold Conference on Spent Fuel Management

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has announced:


No: 16-067 November 23, 2016
Contact: Maureen Conley, 301-415-8200

NRC to Hold Conference on Spent Fuel Management


Registration is now open for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s annual conference on issues related to the management of spent nuclear fuel, to be held Dec. 7-8 in Rockville, Md. The Division of Spent Fuel Management Regulatory Conference 2016 will allow NRC staff, industry representatives and stakeholders to discuss regulatory and technical issues related to spent fuel storage, decommissioning and the transportation of radioactive material.

Online registration will be open through Dec. 2. To register, send your name, job title, organization and email address to Onsite registration will also be available at the conference. More information, including the preliminary agenda and a link to register to attend via webinar, is available on the conference website.

Glenn Tracy, an NRC deputy executive director overseeing materials and waste, will deliver a keynote address Dec. 7. Remarks will also be provided by Mark Lombard and Anthony Hsia, director and deputy director of the Division of Spent Fuel Management. The conference will include discussions and presentations on regulatory process improvements, fuel performance in storage and transportation, a “graded approach” to licensing, decommissioning, license renewals, consolidated storage and transportation.

The conference will run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Wednesday and 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday, at the Hilton Washington D.C./Rockville Hotel, 1750 Rockville Pike, across from the Twinbrook Metro Station. A telephone bridge line has been set up for those who cannot attend in person. An operator will moderate the bridge line, allowing participants to ask questions at designated times. Anyone wishing to phone in should call 1-888-318-4510 and use passcode 8619338.


NRC Requests Public Comment, Schedules Meeting on Issues Paper for Packaging and Transporting Radioactive Material

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has announced:

No: 16-068

November 23, 2016
Contact: Maureen Conley, 301-415-8200

NRC Requests Public Comment, Schedules Meeting on Issues Paper for Packaging and Transporting Radioactive Material


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission this week asked for public input on issues to be considered in revising its regulations for packaging and transporting radioactive material. NRC staff will use comments received in developing a regulatory basis for a proposed rule.

The NRC’s current transportation regulations are based, in part, on standards developed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an international standard-setting organization. The IAEA periodically revises its transportation standards to reflect acquired knowledge and expertise. The NRC is beginning the process to update its own regulations to be compatible with the IAEA’s.

The NRC and the U.S. Department of Transportation share regulatory authority over radioactive material transport. DOT is the lead federal agency for regulating hazardous materials transport in the United States and for interacting with the IAEA. The NRC will coordinate changes to its regulations with DOT.

To help guide public input, the NRC has published an issues paper that outlines areas identified for possible revision. These topics include the requirements for small amounts of fissile material, solar heat and external package pressure, and shipping low activity waste and large solid contaminated objects. The staff will also consider whether to create a new category of more robust packages. These issues are described in greater detail in a Nov. 21 Federal Register notice.

The NRC will hold a two-day meeting at agency headquarters in Rockville, Md., to give an overview and answer clarifying questions on the issues paper. The meeting will be held Dec. 5-6, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Two White Flint North, room T2B3, 11545 Rockville Pike. NRC staff will not take public comments at the meeting. All individuals planning to attend should pre-register by Dec. 2 to obtain meeting material by contacting Emma Wong at or 301-415-7091, or Thomas Young, or 301-415-5795.


The public will also be able to participate remotely by teleconference and webinar. Callers should dial 888-801-8932 and input passcode 4882584#. Those participating by webinar should pre-register. More information is available in the meeting notice.

The public may also submit written comments through Jan. 20, 2017. The issues paper is available on the federal rulemaking website,, under Docket ID NRC-2016-0179. Comments may be submitted on that website; by email to; by fax to Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 301-415-1101; or by mail to Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, ATTN: Rulemakings and Adjudication Staff.


Feds sue proposed Vermont Yankee disposal company

As reported by VTDigger, as well as the Texas Tribune.

The U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit to block the merger of Waste Control Specialists, LLC of Andrews County, TX and EnergySolutions of Salt Lake City, UT is certainly relevant to Vermont Yankee decommissioning, as the article reports. WCS is proposed to become a partner in the decommissioning of Vermont Yankee, by acquiring ownership and an NRC-approved license transfer from current owner Entergy Nuclear.

But the merger would also impact the entire realm of radioactive waste management and disposal in the U.S. EnergySolutions' dumpsite in Clive, Tooele County, UT is a national dump for Class A radioactive waste -- the lowest category of so-called "low" level radioactive waste.

WCS's dump in Andrews, TX accepts Class A, Class B, and Class C radioactive wastes from any state in the union.

WCS has also applied to become a centralized interim storage site (a de facto permanent parking lot dump) for up to 40,000 metric tons of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel.


Bloomberg News: "Trump Advisers Eye Reviving Nevada Yucca Nuclear Waste Dump"

Political cartoon by Tom EngelhardtThe President-Elect Donald J. Trump parade of bad nuclear ideas has already begun. Bloomberg News reports that "Trump advisors eye reviving Nevada nuclear waste dump."

Over the past 30 years, since the "Screw Nevada bill" of 1987 was initially rammed through Congress, more than a thousand environmental, environmental justice, and public interest groups, representing every state in the union, have successfully staved off the proposal to open a national high-level radioactive waste dump at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, located on Western Shoshone Indian land.

In 2009-2010, President Obama declared the Yucca dump "unworkable" -- although scientifically unsuitable and environmentally unjust would have been better -- and wisely cancelled the project. U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), long-serving U.S. Senate Democratic Leader, devoted his career to de-funding and blocking the Yucca dump.

But both Obama and Reid are leaving office in January. The likes of U.S. Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI) and John Shimkus (R-IL), on the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee, have long sought to revive the Yucca dump, on behalf of the lobbyists from the nuclear power industry. Now the President-Elect Trump administration seems amenable to "screwing Nevada," all over again, despite the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future's clear recommendation that radioactive waste dump siting must be "consent-based."

More, including what you can do.