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.



"Nuclear Waste Hard To Handle For GOP Candidates"

Forget about a hot potato -- how about a radioactive hot potato?!

As reported by Jason Plautz in National Journal, "Two early voting states are on opposite ends of the Yucca Mountain divide." South Carolina -- the third presidential primary after Iowa's caucus and New Hampshire's primary -- stores a large amount of irradiated nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste at its many commercial atomic reactors, as well as at the Savannah River Site nuclear weapons complex. The powers that be in South Carolina have long been in favor of dumping its radioactive wastes on Nevada, even though the Silver State already suffered the ravages of four decades of nuclear weapons testing, and has not one single atomic reactor within its borders.

But the Nevada caucus comes just days after the South Carolina primary in the presidential campaign. Republican presidential candidates are now trying to walk that tightrope, dangling above a mountain of radioactive waste 73 years high.

As Hannah Northey at E&E Daily has reported, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) is keeping tabs on which Republican presidential candidates support the Yucca dump, and which oppose it. Members of the latter category are much more likely to receive his support, Sen. Heller had indicated.


"Yucca Mountain left out of Senate funding bill" -- but for how much longer?!

As reported by Devin Henry in The Hill, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has not included funding in the Energy and Water Development section of the Senate Appropriations bill to revive the cancelled Yucca Mountain, Nevada radioactive waste dump. However, Alexander -- a long time Yucca dump supporter -- has made clear that the Senate floor debate of the Appropriations bill would be a good place to add Yucca dump funding by amendment.

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), the Democratic Leader of the U.S. Senate, can be expected to fight any such amendment with everything he's got. After all, he's been successfully leading the fight against the Yucca dump since the "Screw Nevada bill" of 1987, when he was a rookie Senator.

President Obama has also opposed the Yucca dump as "unworkable" -- de-funding the project, and even moving to withdraw the U.S. Department of Energy's application to construct and operate the high-level radioactive waste dump in Nevada.

The U.S. House has included funding for Yucca's U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licensing proceeding. A conference committee between House and Senate appropriators would be another juncture for Yucca dump opponents to remain vigilant against funding being added to the bill.

Alexander's Senate Appropriations Bill language also includes funding for centralized, or consolidated, storage of commercial irradiated fuel -- something opponents have dubbed de facto permanent parking lot dumps. Nuclear boosters near the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in NM, as well as at Waste Control Specialists in Texas, have expressed interest in becoming consolidated interim storage sites -- for a price. Alexander's provision, supported by ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein on the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, would launch unprecedented numbers of risky high-level radioactive waste trucks, trains, and barges onto the roads, rails, and waterways.


"Obama Administration threatens veto on nuclear funding bill"

As reported by Jaclyn Brandt in FierceEnergy, President Obama has threated to veto the House Energy and Water Appropriations bill (HR 2028), unless changes are made -- such as to better promote renewables.

The very pro-nuclear bill also includes $175 million for the U.S. Department of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission to revive the Yucca Mountain, Nevada high-level radioactive waste dump licensing proceeding. The process was halted when the Obama administration effectively cancelled the project in 2009-2010, de-funding the dump, and even moving to withdraw the application to construct and operate the repository.

As reported by the article:

The president's statement also said the funding for the Yucca Mountain project is a "rejection of the practical solutions proposed in the President's nuclear waste strategy."

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), who has successfully led the opposition to the Yucca dump since the "Screw Nevada bill" of 1987, can be expected to yet again block any additional funding from being wasted on the Yucca dump.


"Fresh Call for Total Removal of Nuclear Waste in Bridgeton"

Bridgeton Sanitary Landfill, where underground fire has been smoldering since December 2010 (Photo: KMOX)Kevin Killeen of KMOX/CBS St. Louis has interviewed Beyond Nuclear board member Kay Drey regarding the radioactive contamination of the West Lake Landfill:

Eighty-two-year-old Kay Drey says people – and politicians – are forgetting that this is a regional threat to our drinking water.

“…This is in the Missouri River floodplain,” she says. “And the Missouri River is what North St. Louis County drinks and then it flows into the Mississippi River, which is what the city of St. Louis drinks.”

She says there’s been so much noise about landfill odor and controlling the underground fire that people have lost site of the endgame – getting the federal government to dig up the nuclear waste and haul it away from St. Louis County.

Drey says the Missouri Congressional Delegation has become so cozy with Ameren campaign money that it’s afraid to speak out against nuclear waste.

Drey wants voters to demand Congress transfer jurisdiction of the landfill from the EPA to the Army Corps of Engineers so that it can be dug up, hauled off and cleaned up.

“We have to remove these wastes,” she says. “They are effecting the water we drink and the air we breathe, and they are going to effect St. Louis until they are removed and isolated and taken away.”

In March 2015, Beyond Nuclear board member Kay Drey and colleagues in St. Louis published a pamphlet entitled "Remove the radioactive wastes NOW! Protect Metro St. Louis' water and air from West Lake Landfill's radioactive contamination!" 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. The pamphlet urges readers to "Please go to to sign a letter asking U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt and Congress members William Lacy Clay and Ann Wagner to work to transfer responsibility for West Lake’s radioactive wastes to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."


Declarations of resistance to radioactive waste risks

Irradiated nuclear fuel being moved within a high-level radioactive waste storage poolFrom the Mojave desert of the American Southwest, to the shoreline of the Great Lakes in Canada, resistance to risky radioactive waste burial schemes is intensifying in the U.S. Congress. Meanwhile, grassroots resistance must rise against the latest incarnation of the Mobile Chernobyl bill, and in support of wiser legislation to safeguard and secure irradiated nuclear fuel on-site at reactors.

Yucca Mountain, Nevada

If you're U.S. Representative John Shimkus (R-IL) -- apparently, the Congressman from Exelon Nuclear and the rest of the nuclear power industry -- you see U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid from Nevada's announced retirement as a reason to waste tens of thousands of federal taxpayer dollars by touring the dead U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Yucca Mountain Project site in hopes of resurrecting it. (But then again, Shimkus undertook exactly the same PR stunt, shamelessly in the immediate aftermath of the beginning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe.)

But if you're U.S. Senator Harry Reid, you redouble your decades-long efforts, with your last two years left in the U.S. Senate, to protect your constituents against the nuclear power industry's endlessly risky schemes. Reid just joined with his Republican colleague, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, to introduce a bill that would give Nevada an absolute veto of any radioactive waste dump targeted at it by other states.

In fact, Nevada's bipartisan, vast majority opposition to the Yucca dump remains as strong as ever, as personified by Republican Governor Brian Sandoval and former Democratic Governor and U.S. Senator Richard Bryan.

Urge your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators to oppose the Yucca Mountain dump (you can phone your Congress Members' office via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121), and thank President Obama for his continuing commitment to cancel the Yucca Mountain Project.

Canada's Great Lakes shoreline radioactive waste dump

Bipartisan resolutions in the U.S. House and Senate have been reintroduced, in opposition to Ontario Power Generation's proposal to bury all of the so-called "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive wastes from 20 reactors across the province less than a mile from the waters of Lake Huron. As reported by the Detroit News, the U.S. House resolution is co-sponsored by 11 Democrats (Duckworth and Schakowsky of Illinois; Conyers, Dingell, Kildee, Lawrence, and Levin of Michigan; Higgins and Slaughter of New York; and Fudge and Kaptur of Ohio) and 4 Republicans (Dold of Illinois; Miller of Michigan; Joyce of Ohio; and Duffy of Wisconsin). The resolution has been designated H. Res. 194. The Detroit Free Press also covered this story.

The U.S. Senate resolution is co-sponsored by Michigan Democrats Stabenow and Peters. An identical resolution last session was co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. Baldwin (D-WI), Durbin (D-IL), and Kirk (R-IL), so hopefully they will support this session's too.

If your U.S. Rep. or U.S. Senator(s) have already co-sponsored this resolution, please contact them and thank them (see links above). If your U.S. Rep. or U.S. Senator(s) have not yet co-sponsored this resolution, please urge them to do so. Even if you are not in the Great Lakes Basin, this natural resource (20% of the world's surface fresh water, 86% of North America's surface fresh water, and drinking water supply for 40 million people in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations) is deserving of national protection!

The Canadian federal Joint Review Panel (JRP, comprised of two Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and one Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency panelists) is set to approve the Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) targeted at Kincardine, Ontario as early as May 6th. But opponents have vowed to fight on, even if the JRP grants its approval.

Nearly 150 Native American First Nations, states, counties, cities, towns, and villages -- including Michigan, Chicago, Toledo, and Toronto -- have passed resolutions opposing the DGR. These municipalities represent a population of nearly 20 million Great Lakes Basin residents!

Fukushima Freeways and Parking Lot Dumps

Energy Secretary Moniz, speaking at the pro-nuclear, so-called Bipartisan Policy Committee industry lobbyist front group, has called for passage of Senate Bill 854, the latest incarnation of the Mobile Chernobyl bill. The legislation would rush high-level radioactive waste shipments onto the roads, rails, and waterways, bound for "consolidated interim storage sites" -- more truthfully, de facto permanent parking lot dumps. Please urge your U.S. Senators to oppose S.B. 854.

Safeguarding and Securing High-Level Radioactive Wastes Here and Now

Rather than rushing high-level radioactive waste truck, train, and barge shipments through most states, for no good reason, U.S. Sens. Boxer (D-CA), Markey (D-MA), and Sanders (D-VT) have instead proposed legislation to safeguard and secure irradiated nuclear fuel storage where it currently is -- on-site at reactors. Please urge your U.S. Senators to support the Boxer-Markey-Sanders trio of bills: the "Safe and Secure Decommissioning Act of 2015," the "Nuclear Plant Decommissioning Act of 2015," and the "Dry Cask Storage Act of 2015."