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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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Wednesday
Oct262016

DOE Consent-Based Siting public comment opportunity

This just in from the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy:

As a reminder, the draft report titled Designing a Consent-Based Siting Process: Summary of Public Input is available for public comment through October 30, 2016.  The report is located on the Department of Energy consent-based siting website here and the Federal Register Notice is here.

Thank you for your consideration.

For the latest information on consent-based siting, please visit energy.gov/consentbasedsiting.

Friday
Sep302016

Native American Forum on Nuclear Issues, Oct. 10-11, 2016, U. of NV Las Vegas

Native Community Action Council logoBeyond Nuclear is honored and privileged to be invited by the Native Community Action Council (NCAC) to present at its Native American Forum on Nuclear Issues, taking place on October 10 & 11, 2016, at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas (UNLV).

See the event flier here.

See the agenda/program here.

The Forum is sponsored by the UNLV Academic Multicultural Resource Center and UNLV Boyd School of Law.

Learn more about NCAC at its website.

Wednesday
Sep282016

Pro-nuclear Bipartisan Policy Center advocates for Mobile Chernobyls and high-level radioactive waste parking lot dumps

[TAKE ACTION! Help push back, by using Beyond Nuclear's "We Do NOT Consent!" talking points to write your own for submission to consentbasedsiting@hq.doe.gov by the Oct. 30th deadline.

You can also contact your two U.S. Senators and your U.S. Representative (including via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121), as well as the White House, urging that: high-level radioactive waste stop being made; Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS) be required for what already exists; and calls for Mobile Chernobyls and de facto permanent parking lot dumps be rejected.]

At a Sept. 27, 2016 press event at its downtown Washington, D.C. headquarters (see hour-long video recording), the pro-nuclear lobbyist think tank that goes by the name Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) rolled out a report (or nuclear lobbying plan) entitled "Moving Forward with Consent-Based Siting for Nuclear Waste Facilities."

The Full Report is 36 pages long. BPC also released a two-page Report Summary, as well as 16-page "Nuclear Waste Primer."

The BPC lobbying plan advocates for high-level radioactive waste centralized interim storage sites, and the unprecedented numbers of truck, train, and/or barge shipments of irradiated nuclear fuel it would take to transfer irradiated nuclear fuel from reactor sites, through countless communities in most states, to such de facto permanent parking lot dumps as is now being targeted at Waste Control Specialists, LLC in Andrews County, TX, above the Ogallala Aquifer, and another soon to be targeted at Eddy-Lea Counties, NM, near the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

These "Recommendations of the BPC Nuclear Waste Council" follow closely upon the heels of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) own "Consent-Based Siting Draft Report: Designing a Consent-Based Siting Process, Summary of Public Input" (Sept. 15, 2016).

If the BPC's and DOE's recommended policies sound remarkably similar to you, this is not a mere coincidence, nor is your mind playing tricks on you.

This "Getting to Yes" nuclear power lobbyist echo chamber is most objectionable, including the routine ignoring of large numbers of public comments, and longstanding public concerns, about high-level radioactive waste transportation (Mobile Chernobyls, Floating Fukushimas, Fukushima Freeways, Dirty Bombs on Wheels) and parking lot dumps (so-called centralized or consolidated interim storage facilities).

Beyond Nuclear's repeated calls for environmental justice -- against the radioactive racism of targeting Native Americans for high-level radioactive waste dumps -- have long been ignored by the Blue Ribbon Commission, by DOE's "consent-based siting" proceeding, and now by the BPC. This environmental injustice is particularly shocking and inexplicable, given President Obama's glowing praise for NECONA (National Environmental Coalition of Native Americans) leader Grace Thorpe, for her work to stop high-level radioactive waste parking lot dumps targeted at Native lands. Why then have Obama's own Blue Ribbon Commission (see below), and DOE, continued to target Native lands for parking lot dumps?!

Neither the BPC, nor the DOE, have given the time of day to a nationwide environmental coalition calling (for well over a decade) for Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS). But then again, the Blue Ribbon Commission also gave HOSS short shrift.

Both the BPC Nuclear Waste Council, as well as the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy, claim to be advancing the final recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future (Jan. 2012), including so-called "consent-based siting."

But this is the entire problem. The revolving door is blatant, shameless. A number of the very same individuals who comprised the Blue Ribbon Commission, then went to work at DOE to advance their own final recommendations. This, despite the Blue Ribbon Commission's second highest recommendation of all -- that DOE (by betraying the public trust and demonstrating its utter incompetence for decades on end) could no longer be left in charge of high-level radioactive waste management, but must be replaced by a new, independent agency.

DOE has not let go of the reins. Far from it.

Now, there is significant overlap of the very same persons at the BPC Nuclear Waste Council. The flagrant conflicts of interest are objectionable.

For example, the following BPC Nuclear Waste Council Members also served as members of the Blue Ribbon Commission: Vicky A. Bailey; Richard A. Meserve; and Phil Sharp.

Timothy Frazier served as the Designated Federal Official, from DOE, for the Blue Ribbon Commission. He then worked as a staffer at the BPC. Now Frazier is back at DOE, so to speak, as a private consultant/contractor on the "consent-based siting" proceeding.

Similarly, Mary Woolen served as a public liaison for the Blue Ribbon Commission, and is now in an identical role, as a private consultant/contractor, for DOE.

John Kotek, now Acting Assitant Secretary for Nuclear Energy at DOE, in charge of the "consent-based siting" proceeding, was staff director at the Blue Ribbon Commission.

Kotek's boss, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, was himself a Blue Ribbon Commission member.

Kotek has deep ties to the Idaho National (Nuclear) Lab, a catch-all for DOE jurisdiction high-level radioactive waste "interim storage" (including Nuclear Navy irradiated fuel; research reactor irradiated nuclear fuel; and melted down irradiated nuclear fuel from Three Mile Island Unit 2, and Fermi 1).

At the Boise, ID DOE "consent-based siting" public meeting held this year, Kotek invited David Leroy, DOE's former Nuclear Waste Negotiator, as a keynote panelist. Leroy was in charge of DOE's previous efforts to target Native lands for radioactive waste dumps.

But the examples above only describe the revolving door between the Blue Ribbon Commission, DOE, and BPC. Peeling back the onion another layer reveals, for example, that the likes of Blue Ribbon Commission and BPC member Richard A. Meserve, also has direct, for-profit nuclear power industry ties. Revelation by Beyond Nuclear of Meserve's membership on the boards of directors of nuclear utilities Luminant (owner of Comanche Peak nuclear power plant in Texas) and Pacific Gas & Electric (owner of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in California) led to his recusal from a National Academy of Science (NAS) nuclear power/cancer incidence study several years ago (yes, Meserve is also a long serving fixture at NAS on nuclear power and radioactive waste matters).

Meserve is also president of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. The Carnegie Institution for Science, in turn, is acknowledged in the BPC report for providing a support grant. (The Carnegie Institution for Science, under the presidency of Vannevar Bush, was also the original home for the Manhattan Project in the late 1930s/early 1940s, before the U.S. Army took over, as documented in Richard Rhodes The Making of the Atomic Bomb.)

Meserve formerly served as U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman, from 1999 to 2002. He was appointed by President Bill Clinton. Meserve resigned his NRC chairmanship in the immediate aftermath of the Davis-Besse reactor lid corrosion "Hole-in-the-Head" fiasco, the closest call with catastrophe at any U.S. atomic reactor since the Three Mile Island meltdown of 1979.

Such "public service" as described above (doing the bidding of the nuclear power industry and its lobbyist juggernaut) amounts to serving the public -- up for dinner to the nuclear power industry.

But then again, the top nuclear power lobbyist in the U.S. -- Alex Flint, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at the Nuclear Energy Institute -- is also a BPC Nuclear Waste Council Member.

Flint has been through the revolving door between Capitol Hill and the nuclear power industry multiple times. In one especially egregious rotation, he went from authoring the federal taxpayer nuclear power loan guarantee program, as a top staffer for U.S. Senator Pete V. Domenici (Republican-New Mexico), enacted in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, to his current NEI position (where he earns a very lucrative salary; in this sense, he wrote his own pay check). $8.3 billion in federal taxpayer nuclear power loan guarantees have since been awarded to the Vogtle 3 & 4 proposed new reactors in Georgia -- 15 times more taxpayer money that was lost in the Solyndra solar loan guarantee scandal, only at much higher risk for defaulting than was Solyndra's loan. Sure enough, Vogtle 3 & 4 are significantly over budget, and behind schedule.

(Oh, by the way, Domenici was also a Blue Ribbon Commission member, and is also a BPC "Expert". As chairman of both the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, as well as the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, Domenici was one of the most powerful and effective pro-nuclear power advocates on Capitol Hill for not years, but decades. His home state of New Mexico hosts not only Los Alamos, but also Sandia National Lab, as well as Uranium Enrichment Corporation, and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant -- and perhaps, soon enough, a high-level radioactive waste parking lot dump, to boot, if Holtec and the Eddy-Lea Counties Energy Alliance have their way.)

(Although not on the Nuclear Waste Council per se, another BPC "Expert" who really stands out like a sore thumb is Curt Hébert, formerly of Entergy Nuclear, one of the biggest nuclear power utilities in the U.S. In 2010, Hébert was sent as a lobbyist by Entergy Nuclear to do its dirty work at Vermont Yankee, and was handed his hat by a powerful grassroots anti-nuclear movement.)

(And -- also not on the Nuclear Waste Council per se -- yet another sore thumb BPC "Energy Expert" is Susan Tierney, a senior consultant to Exelon Nuclear (and other major nuclear utilities, including Entergy, Duke, etc. -- see her CV), and a member of President-elect Barack Obama's "Energy Transition Team" in late 2008. More on the Obama-Exelon connections below.)

President Obama's Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz, approved the $8.3 billion for Vogtle 3 & 4, and joined in the nuclear loan guarantee signing ceremony celebration/pro-nuclear love fest. As mentioned above, Moniz had served as a Blue Ribbon Commission member. Before that, he was an MIT nuclear engineering prof, who co-authored a major report on the so-called nuclear power renaissance in 2003.

Of course, President Obama's Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future having been "hosted by" the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy in the first place didn't help matters much. The Office of Nuclear Energy has an explicit mandate to promote nuclear power. This mandate and bias came through strongly, in the Blue Ribbon Commission's very charter, as well as its obvious bias in favor of the nuclear power industry's agenda.

But then again, John Rowe, CEO of Exelon Nuclear, also served on the Blue Ribbon Commission! Perhaps none of this should be a surprise -- Exelon was a major campaign contributor to a certain Illinois State Senator, who became a U.S. Senator, who later became President -- Barack Obama. (A number of Obama's inner circle -- including Valerie Jarrett, and David Axelrod, are former Exelon lobbyists; Rahm Emanuel, Obama's White House Chief of Staff, and now Mayor of Chicago, was the investment banker for the Exelon merger, earning him a multi-million dollar personal fortune.)

If your head is spinning, that's okay. Welcome to the nuclear power lobbyists-go-round!

Thursday
Sep152016

DOE opens another round of public comment on draft 'Consent-Based Siting'

Concerned citizens and environmental groups have been expressing their non-consent to bad, dangerous radioactive waste policies for a very long time. This photo was taken at NRC HQ in Rockville, MD in Nov. 2013, as representatives of an environmental coalition protested NRC's Nuke Waste Con Game (Nuclear Waste Confidence, or Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel) policies, allowing unlimited generation of irradiated nuclear fuel, and its unsafe storage in pools and dry casks for decades, and even centuries, to come. Photo credit: Erica Grey and Dave Martin.On the very eve of its September 15th public meeting in Washington, DC -- to summarize public comments received between Dec. 23, 2015 to July 31, 2016 re: so-called 'Consent-Based Siting' of radioactive waste dumps -- the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced yet another public comment opportunity (see the DOE's last minute announcement, reproduced below, in italics).

DOE also published its draft summary of public comments (84 pages long), after 7pm Eastern on Sept. 14th, less than 24 hours before its meeting just scheduled two weeks earlier (only announced Sept. 1st), to take place in Washington, DC beginning at 2pm Eastern on Sept. 15th.

DOE has also published for the first time links to this year's public comments themselves, generated by such groups as Beyond Nuclear, NIRS, Public Citizen, Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Campaign, etc. As can be seen, the public comments have been high quality, and submitted in very large numbers (measured in the thousands, all told).

We must continue to hold DOE's feet to the fire, by submitting another flood of high quality public comments, making clear WE DO NOT CONSENT to DOE's parking lot dump plans, its Mobile Chernobyl plans, nor to U.S. House Republican plans to resurrect the cancelled Yucca Mountain, Nevada burial dump.

Nor do we consent to the ongoing risks associated with "wet" pool and dry cask storage of irradiated nuclear fuel at nuclear power plants -- and continue, after a decade and a half of doing so, to call for Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS), as well as the cessation of production of high-level radioactive waste (that is, we demand atomic reactors permanently shut down)!

Beyond Nuclear will release another round of sample talking points in the near future, as well as the addresses (online, snail mail, fax, etc.) to which to submit comments. You can use the sample talking points to fashion your own, for submission to DOE.

Here is DOE's announcement, including a link to the DOE draft summary report (on which it has requested further public comment by Oct. 30th):

Hello,

The draft report titled Designing a Consent-Based Siting Process: Summary of Public Input is now available on the Department of Energy consent-based siting website here.

To launch the consent-based siting effort, DOE issued an “Invitation for Public Comment to Inform the Design of a Consent-Based Siting Process for Nuclear Waste Storage and Disposal Facilities” in the Federal Register on December 23, 2015. The comment period was open through July 31, 2016.

Comments received throughout the Invitation for Public Comment and public meetings are summarized in a draft report, titled Designing a Consent-Based Siting Process: Summary of Public Input.  The draft report will be available for public comment for 45 days via a Federal Register Notice beginning September 15, 2016 and concluding on October 30, 2016.  In addition, public comments received on the December 23rd Invitation for Public Comment are now publically posted at here and comments received via regulations.gov are available at here.

Thank you to everyone who attended our public meetings, provided comments, and participated in this important first step. 

John Kotek

Acting Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy

U.S. Department of Energy

Thursday
Sep012016

U.S. Dept. of Energy's Public Meeting on September 15th in Washington DC [also viewable via Webinar]

On Sept. 1st, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sent out the following announcement:

Good Afternoon,

On Thursday, September 15th, 2016, the Department of Energy (DOE) will host a public meeting in Washington, DC to summarize feedback received as part of the December 23, 2015 Invitation for Public Comment and subsequent public meetings on consent-based siting.  The meeting will also provide an opportunity to discuss next steps in consent-based siting with participants.

DATE AND TIME: The meeting will take place on Thursday September 15, 2016 from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.  Department officials will be available to discuss consent-based siting during an informal open house 30 minutes before and after the formal meeting.

LOCATION: The meeting will be held at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Washington D.C. Convention Center at 900 10th St NW, Washington, DC 20001.  The entire meeting will be available live via Live Webstream Link

REGISTRATION: Registration is encouraged to assist with planning efforts. Registration Link

BACKGROUND AND AGENDA:  DOE is designing a consent-based siting process to establish an integrated waste management system to transport, store, and dispose of spent nuclear fuel and high level radioactive waste.  In a consent-based siting approach, DOE will work with communities, tribal governments and states across the country that express interest in hosting any of the facilities identified as part of an integrated waste management system.  As part of this process, the Department issued an Invitation for Public Comment in the Federal Register on December 23, 2015 and hosted eight public meetings across the United States in 2016 to seek input on the elements that should be considered in the development of a consent-based siting process.  This September 15, 2016 meeting will summarize feedback received and provide an opportunity to discuss next steps in consent-based siting For more information, and to view the agenda, please visit our website at energy.gov/consentbasedsiting.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Please send requests for further information to consentbasedsiting@hq.doe.gov.

We look forward to your participation and hope to see you in [sic] online or in Washington!

John Kotek

Acting Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy

U.S. Department of Energy