Waste Transportation

The transportation of radioactive waste already occurs, but will become frequent on our rails, roads and waterways, should irradiated reactor fuel be moved to interim or permanent dump sites.



Mobile Chernobyls, Floating Fukushimas, Dirty Bombs on Wheels, and Mobile X-ray Machines that can't be turned off, through most states, many major cities, and most congressional districts?!

A "game" of radioactive Russian roulette on the roads, rails, and waterways, anyone?! How about unprecedented thousands of rolls of those dice?!

H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017, poised for a full U.S. House floor vote by the end of July, could launch these high-risks through most states, many major cities, and most congressional districts!

Thank you to the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects for its ongoing leadership in documenting and educating the country on the risks of irradiated nuclear fuel transportation. (When it comes to irradiated nuclear fuel transportation, we ALL live in Nevada!)

Here are the latest maps by the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, regarding road and rail routes for shipping highly radioactive waste from reactor sites to Yucca Mountain, Nevada:

Note that, although the maps depict Yucca-bound waste shipments, there is a lot of overlap of routing, regarding centralized interim storage facilities targeted at west Texas (Waste Control Specialists, LLC, Andrews County) and/or southeast New Mexico (Eddy-Lea [Counties] Energy Alliance).

The State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects keeps a repository of documents and scholarship regarding high-level radioactive waste transport risks at its website.

In addition to the road and rail routes shown above, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has also identified numerous potential surface water barging routes across the U.S., from the Great Lakes, to rivers, to sea coasts, in its 2002 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed Yucca dump.

Further updates, and details, regarding DOE's potential barging, and other transport, schemes have come to light in recent years.

Irradiated nuclear fuel shipments can also be considered "Mobile X-Ray Machines That Can't Be Turned Off" (Loren Olson, sister of Mary Olson, NIRS S.E. office director, coined this phrase two decades ago). This is because of a "region of influence" due to hazardous gamma radiation and neutron radiation emitted by the irradiated nuclear fuel, 800 feet (a half-mile) in radius, extending in all directions from the cask. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) permissive regulations allow for 10 millirem per hour dose rates (equivalent to one to two chest X-rays per hour), in terms of penetrating gamma radiation, at a distance of 6 feet (2 meters) away from the outer surface of the shipping cask. At the surface itself, dose rates of 200 millirem per hour (equivalent to 20 to 40 chest X-rays per hour) are allowed. NRC's lax regulations save the nuclear power industry money, in terms of the radiation shielding required on shipping casks. But the price tag for such industry-cost savings comes at the expense of worker and public health.

[Also see "Representative Transportation Routes to Yucca Mountain and Transportation Impacts (Cask Shipments by State)".]


Nuke waste bill to House floor soon?


FULL SPEED AHEAD! House Energy and Commerce Environment Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus tells ME he's optimistic comprehensive nuclear waste legislation that would revive the Yucca Mountain site will get a full chamber vote before Congress steps away for August recess. Though longtime Yucca opponent Sen. Dean Heller called the legislation "dead on arrival in the Senate," Shimkus shot back that Energy and Commerce's 49-4 vote in support of the measure was "as good as anyone could have expected" and "probably troubling for those who want to keep the status quo."


Potential barge routes, on U.S. surface waters, to ship high-level radioactive waste to NV, NM, and/or TX


50-group environmental coalition urges rejection of H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017

Beyond Nuclear joined with a 50-group environmental coalition, spearheaded by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), to urge members of the U.S. House of Represenatives Energy & Commerce Committee to vote against the latest incarnation of the Screw Nevada and Mobile Chernobyl bill, H.R. 3053 sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL).

The bill would also legalize private centralized interim storage facilities (CISFs) for commercial irradiated nuclear fuel. Waste Control Specialists, LLC in Andrews County, west Texas, and the Eddy-Lea [Counties] Energy Alliance in southeastern New Mexico, near the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (for military plutonium contamination disposal) are the top targets for such de facto permanent surface parking lot dumps. The two CISFs are less than 40 miles apart, across the TX-NM border.

The legislation, which cleared Shimkus's Environment and the Economy Subcommittee a couple weeks ago, will undergo mark up before the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee, and a likely up or down vote, on Wed., June 28th at 10am Eastern. If it passes, it would then move on to the full U.S. House floor, for consideration.

Beyond Nuclear encourages everyone to contact their U.S. Representative, to urge strong opposition to this dangerously bad bill. (Look up your U.S. Rep.'s contact info. at this site, by typing in your ZIP code at the upper right, clicking GO, and following the internet links.) Feel free to cite, and share, the group letter above, when you communicate with your U.S. Rep.'s office!


DOJ Wins Stop To $367M Merger Of Radioactive Waste Firms; NRC suspends licensing proceeding on WCS CISF

A Delaware federal judge on Wednesday blocked the $367 million merger of EnergySolutions Inc. and Waste Control Specialists LLC, siding with the U.S. Department of Justice in the government's bid to enjoin the deal on antitrust grounds. [This story was broken by Law360 Environmental. The remainder of the article is behind a pay wall.]

WCS had hoped EnergySolutions -- its competitor in "low-level" radioactive waste dumping -- could take it over, which would allow for the resumption of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licensing proceedings on WCS's proposal to construct and operate a centralized interim storage facility (CISF) for 40,000 metric tons of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel in Andrews County, TX. This court ruling appears to have dealt a severe blow to those plans.

By coincidence, the NRC Commissioners just affirmed their vote, at around 2pm Eastern on Thursday, June 22nd, to approve the combined request by WCS, NRC staff, and even opposing environmental groups (including Beyond Nuclear), to suspend the CISF licensing proceeding.

Here is a link to the NRC Commissioners' MEMORANDUM AND ORDER, which actually denies most of the environmental coalition's requests made on April 28, 2017, regarding procedures and deadlines to come, should this licensing proceeding resume.

If opened, the CISF at WCS, TX would have launched unprecedented numbers of shipments, mostly by rail (but also by barge and/or heavy haul truck, at certain nuclear power plants), of irradiated nuclear fuel through many states.

Located less than 40 miles from WCS across the TX/NM border, however, the ELEA, NM CISF (Eddy-Lea [Counties] Energy Alliance) is still proceeding full steam ahead. ELEA, located very near the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), if opened, could also launch unprecedented numbers of Mobile Chernobyls, Floating Fukushimas, and Dirty Bombs on Wheels.