In response to the U.S. Department of Energy's Draft Plan for a Defense Waste Repository, and opportunity for public comment, Beyond Nuclear submitted the following public comments on March 20, 2017.
With the Barnwell "low-level" radioactive waste dump closed to all but three states and the proposed - but scientifically-flawed - Yucca Mountain high-level waste dump canceled, the Department of Energy is looking at new potential repository sites across the U.S.
A February 10, 2017 article entitled "WASTE: US Congress Weighs in on Canadian Great Lakes Repository Plan," published in Nuclear Intelligence Weekly's (NIW) Vol. 11, No. 6 by NIW reporters James Irwin in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and Stephanie Cooke in Washington, D.C., U.S.A., quotes former former Ontario Power Generation (OPG) scientist and whistle-blower Dr. Frank Greening, as well as Dr. Gordon Edwards of Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility. See the full article, reposted here with permission from NIW.
As featured on Nuclear-Free Future on Channel 17/Town Hall Meeting TV in Burlington, VT. (Watch the recording of the 30-minute episode, "Loss of Institutional Control," here.)
Host Margaret Harrington speaks with Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Watchdog at Beyond Nuclear, about nuclear weapons and nuclear power issues facing the Trump Administration.
Kevin Kamps zeroes in on issues faced by the Trump administration regarding nuclear weapons and nuclear power in the United States and globally. There is the 75 year buildup of nuclear waste which is the legacy of the Cold War. That is stored at WIPP, the Waste Isolation Pilot Program in Carlsbad, New Mexico. There is the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, where radioactive turtles and alligators swim in waters that flow into drinking water sources. There are irradiated nuclear fuel containers at every atomic reactor site in the United States. Then there is the disaster zone of Fukushima Daiichi, Japan where nuclear waste sits in plastic garbage bags.
WIPP claims to be back in business, nearly three years after severe radioactive contamination of underground facility, and environmental release impacting workers
As reported by the Carlsbad, New Mexico Current-Argus and the Albuquerque Journal, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) has emplaced the first trans-uranic (TRU) -- plutonium-contaminated nuclear weapons-related -- waste in nearly three years.
The Journal article reports:
“What they are doing is very risky,” said Don Hancock of the Southwest Research and Information Center in Albuquerque, a longtime WIPP watchdog group. “There still is a lot of contamination in the underground. Workers have to use protective equipment, which makes it slow and more likely to have problems.”
In February 2014, WIPP suffered two disasters in just several days. The first was an underground haul truck fire, that sent a couple dozen workers to the emergency room with smoke inhalation. One worker suffered permanent disability.
The second disaster (which took place on Valentine's Day, 2014) involved an underground barrel burst, which contaminated a large part of the underground WIPP facility with TRU, and even resulted in radioactive releases to the atmosphere, which then fell out downwind in the surface environment. Another couple dozen workers above ground suffered internal alpha particle inhalation, significantly increasing their risk for lung cancer in the future.
Estimates for the recovery from the barrel burst range from $1 billion (L.A. Times) to $2 billion (a recent DOE admission). Federal taxpayers will be forced to pay for this.
Recent problems at WIPP include the collapse of ceilings in the underground mine, caused by lack of maintenance due to the complications of protecting workers in full body suits and respirators, given the serious contamination. One of many recent collapses happened near workers.
The rush to restart WIPP emplacement operations, despite the risks, is likely due to the end of the Obama administration, on Jan. 20th. Energy Secretary Moniz, who will attend an ironic VIP ribbon cutting ceremony at WIPP next Monday (WIPP began operations in 1999!), would likely relish being able to say WIPP restarted on his watch.
WIPP is the first and only deep geologic repository for radioactive waste disposal in the U.S., and so is held up as a poster child of success, as the U.S. Department of Energy and rest of the nuclear industry seek DGRs (or DUDs, for Deep Underground Dumps) for such other waste streams as highly radioactive commercial irradiated nuclear fuel.
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
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. More.