The latest radioactive rabbit hole: DOE's "deep borehole disposal" scheme targets 26 states for high-level waste dumps!
As announced by a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) press release, a consortium -- including many decades long nuclear establishment member Battelle Memorial Institute of Columbus, OH -- has been awarded a $35 million taxpayer funded contract to drill a deep borehole, more than three miles down, into the crystalline granite of Rugby, ND.
Although no radioactive waste will be dumped in the hole during the test, the experiment's overriding raison d'etre is to learn lessons that could be applied elsewhere. As DOE's press release concludes:
Scientists have identified many regions in the United States that have large, geologically stable rock formations similar to the Rugby, North Dakota location. The work in North Dakota will help increase understanding of similar locations across the country.
In fact, in Dec., 2008, DOE published a Report...on the Need for a Second Repository. The report made clear that, as of spring 2010, the country's first repository (then targeted at Yucca Mountain, NV, a project wisely canceled by the Obama administration as "unworkable") would have already been full, at least under current legal constraints, if that dump have ever been opened.
The first repository is initially capped at 63,000 metric tons of commercial waste, as well as an additional 7,000 metric tons of nuclear weapons waste, by the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1983, as Amended. By spring 2010, 63,000 metric tons of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel had already been generated by the U.S. nuclear power industry.
That is, a second repository would now be needed, to accommodate the dumping of the 2,000 metric tons per year of additional commercial irradiated nuclear fuel being generated across the U.S. by atomic reactors.
Figure 3 on page 12 (16 of 20 on PDF counter) of DOE's 2008 report shows that each of the Lower 48 states is under consideration for the second high-level radioactive waste dump. 25 of those states are being targeted because of their granite geology.
DOE names the states with what it considers promising granite geology for radioactive waste disposal:
DOE reference documents...identify 17 states within which there were granitic bodies believed to be adequate for investigation for siting a repository for the second repository program. The states identified included: [Minnestota; Wisconsin; Michigan; Maine; New Hampshire; Vermont; Massachusetts; Connecticut; Pennsylvania; New York; New Jersey; Delaware; Maryland; Virginia; North Carolina; South Carolina; Georgia.]
In fact, in Vermont alone, seven separate sites were targeted; a similar large number were targeted in Minnesota. Two were targeted in New Hampshire, as were two (the Puritan Pluton, and the Wolf River Batholith) in Wisconsin. One was targeted in Maine -- below Lake Sebago!
Beyond Nuclear warned in November 2007, in the lead up to the New Hampshire presidential primary of early 2008, that the Granite State could be targeted again as the nation's high-level radioactive waste dump.
And sure enough, as reported by Nancy West in the NH Business Review on Dec. 10, 2015, a New Hampshire state law from 1986, banning high-level radioactive waste burial in the Granite State, was very quietly repealed in 2011 -- by a line or two of legislative language, buried in a massive state budget bill. The legislative maneuver was so secretive, that it is still not known which NH legislator(s) orchestrated it, or why. The discovery was made by NH State Rep. Renny Cushing (D-Hampton), a founder of the anti-nuclear Clamshell Alliance in the mid-1970s. Together with other Clamshell Alliance founders such as Paul Gunter (now serving as Beyond Nuclear's Reactor Oversight Project Director), Cushing led the mid-1980s charge across NH that saw almost 100+ towns across the state declare their opposition to radioactive waste disposal. The state government followed suit by passing the radioactive waste dump ban at that time. Cushing has now introduced a bill to re-establish the dump ban.
Along similar lines, recent pro-nuclear state legislative action in Wisconsin -- to repeal a decades-long ban on new reactors, until a radioactive waste solution is found -- could make the Badger State vulnerable to being re-targeted, now for deep borehole high-level radioactive waste disposal. The lobbying effort is being led by such nuclear establishment figures as Michael Corradini, a professor in UW-Madison's DOE (that is, taxpayer)-funded nuclear engineering department, and a member, and subcommittee chairman, of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's largely industry friendly rubber-stamp Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards. Corradini experienced a sudden reversal during the George W. Bush administration, when he was forced to immediately resign his position, as chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, after it was revealed he had written blatantly un-scientific pro-Yucca Mountain dump advocacy editorials.
But DOE's target list, in the 2008 Report on the Need for a Second Repository, continued:
Supporting references identify eight additional states under consideration by the crystalline rock program as having granitic bodies that could be adequate for investigation for siting a repository for the second repository program:
[Washington; Idaho; Arizona; Wyoming; Texas; Alabama; South Dakota; Oklahoma.] (page 11, or 15 of 20 on the PDF counter)
Given the choice of North Dakota for the test borehole, presumably it too would now be added to the target list. That adds up to a total of 26 states being eyed by DOE as potential deep borehole disposal high-level radioactive waste dumps!
The DOE press release announcing the deep borehole disposal experiment also stated:
Over 40 years ago, scientists suggested the idea of disposing of nuclear weapons production waste in holes drilled miles into granite. In January 2012 the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future recommended research into the possibility of using deep boreholes “particularly as a disposal alternative for certain forms of waste that have essentially no potential for re-use.”
In fact, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was a member of the Obama administration's Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future, an entirely pro-nuclear power panel set up to find a "Plan B" for radioactive waste management, in light of Yucca's cancellation as a dump, in order to promote nuclear power's expansion.
In an Orwellian afterthought, DOE's high-level radioactive waste disposal deep borehole experiment comes wrapped in a "clean energy" false façade. DOE's press release also states:
One of the most promising applications is the potential for disposal of certain types of high-level radioactive wastes; another could be geothermal energy development. (emphasis added)
Last October, Beyond Nuclear warned that the DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy (ONE, or NE, mandated with promoting nuclear power) was brining to the surface its long subterranean (as in stealth) deep borehole disposal scheme. The warning came after Beyond Nuclear attended a U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board meeting that focused on the previously largely stealth deep borehole disposal scheme.