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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.

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Thursday
Mar062014

Secretive, unprecedented, risky shipments of liquid HLRW from Canada to U.S. raise concerns -- take action!

Peace Bridge between Fort Niagara, ON and Buffalo, NY is one of numerous border crossings where unprecedented liquid HLRW shipments could travel.As reported by the Welland Tribune, unprecedented shipments of liquid high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) have not yet begun to roll from Ontario, across at the New York State border crossings, and down the East Coast to Savannah River Site, South Carolina. Even when they do roll, local, regional, and state emergency preparedness officials will not be informed till afterwards, if at all. This begs the question -- what if the worst happens? Will emergency responders even know how to handle the situation?

An article in the Investigative Post has revealed numerous concerns about the liquid HLRWs traveling over the Peace Bridge between Fort Niagara, Ontario, and Buffalo, New York.

TAKE ACTION!

Barbara Warren, Executive Director of Citizens' Environmental Coalition in Albany, NY has prepared an action alert, attached to a backgrounder prepared by environmental attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo, OH. Resistance to these shipments has been expressed by a growing coalition in the U.S. and Canada, including such groups as the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Beyond Nuclear and Nuclear Information and Resource Service. The action alert and backgrounder describe the potential need for a grassroots citizen legal challenge under the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act against these hastily proposed shipments.

Wednesday
Jan152014

Opposition grows to unprecedented shipments of liquid high-level radioactive waste

An infrared photo of a high-level radioactive waste rail shipment. The high temperature of such shipments, however, is the least of our worries. A severe accident, or attack, involving such a shipment could breach the container, leading to disastrous releases of hazardous radioactivity. This is true for solid irradiated fuel shipments, but all the more so for unprecedented, unanalyzed liquid HLRW truck transports.Grassroots opposition is mounting against a proposal to conduct the unprecedented transportation of liquid high-level radioactive wastes (HLRWs) from Chalk River, Ontario, Canada to Savannah River Site, South Carolina, U.S.A. Although some 2,500 to 3,000 shipments of irradiated nuclear fuel in solid form have occurred in the U.S. since the 1940s, never before has liquid HLRW been shipped. The risks of a disastrous environmental release due to a severe accident would be even higher for liquid shipments than for solid shipments.

In addition, the shipments would be associated with the U.S. Department of Energy. Dr. James David Ballard, an expert on terrorism, testified in federal court in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1999 that DOE high-level radioactive waste shipments are at increased risk of terrorist attack because they are associated with the U.S. federal government's nuclear program. Dr. Ballard was testifying as an expert witness on behalf of a U.S.-Canadian-First Nations grassroots coalition opposed to solid weapons-grade plutonium mixed oxide fuel truck shipments from Los Alamos, New Mexico, U.S.A. to Chalk River.

The most likely shipment route for these liquid HLRW trucks is from Ontario into upstate New York, such as at Buffalo and/or Niagara Falls. However, for security reasons, the border crossings could vary, occurring elsewhere in New York, or even other states.

Dr. Gordon Edwards of Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility has prepared a backgrounder on these proposed liquid HLRW truck shipments, a resolution in opposition, and list of resolution endorsers.

As of July 2, 2013, 91 groups had endorsed the resolution. If your group would like to endorse the resolution, please email Dr. Edwards at Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility: ccnr@web.ca.

In addition, please contact your U.S. Senators, your U.S. Representative, and President Obama. (You can phone your Members of Congress via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.) Urge them to block these unprecedented, high-risk shipments.

Friday
Dec202013

Beyond Nuclear meets NRC's "Nuke Waste Con Game" DGEIS public comment deadline

Environmental coalition members from the Crabshell Alliance, Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Campaign, NIRS, PSR, NEIS, and Public Citizen "just say NO!" at the NRC HQ nuke waste con game public comment meeting on 11/14 in Rockville, MD. Photo credit David Martin and Erica Grey.

(The "away-from-reactor" so-called "centralized interim storage sites" (better dubbed de facto permanent surface parking lot dumps), considered as part and parcel of NRC's "Nuclear Waste Confidence" DGEIS, would necessitate transportation, although this was downplayed to the point of being almost completely ignored by NRC.)

A special thank you to all those who took action, as urged in Beyond Nuclear's weekly email bulletins, and submitted comments in writing to NRC, or testified orally at public meetings. The final count is not in yet, but it's safe to say many hundreds -- if not thousands -- of high-quality comments were submitted by the Dec. 20th deadline.

In addition to its involvement in environmental coalition efforts, Beyond Nuclear also submitted its own public comments to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) re: its "Nuclear Waste Confidence" Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS) deadline on Dec. 20th. Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Kevin Kamps, submitted comments, as well as supporting documents (Exhibits: A to E; F to I; and J to O).

Kay Drey, a Beyond Nuclear board of directors member based in St. Louis, MO, also submitted comments. Kay is also the author of the numerous pamphlets listed below, and the inspiration behind the Dec. 2-3, 2012 "Mountain of Radioactive Waste 70 Years High" conference held at the U. of Chicago mentioned below.

Paul Gunter, Director of Beyond Nuclear's Reactor Oversight Project, also submitted comments, telling the inspiring story of "at least 92 of 137 towns adopted identical language 'to oppose the burial, storage, transportation and production of high-level radioactive waste' in New Hampshire" in 1986. In a tremendous grassroots democracy victory, town warrant articles were passed across "the Granite State" -- the month before Chernobyl exploded and 25 years before Fukushima Daiichi melted down -- in opposition to the Department of Energy's proposal to destroy seven historic New Hampshire towns in order to build a national geologic repository for high-level radioactive waste beneath them.

In Nov. 2007, amidst the presidential primary campaign then raging in New Hampshire, Beyond Nuclear published a fact sheet entitled "A New Hampshire High-Level Radioactive Waste Dump?" In the section on "What's at Stake?", Beyond Nuclear reported:

"Several towns, including Hillsborough (frequently spelled Hillsboro), New Hampshire sit atop a large granite formation identified as the “Cardigan Pluton.” The rock body is part of the DOE’s Crystalline Rock Repository Project to site a second national nuclear waste repository. If selected, the populations declining a federal buyout would be subject to relocation and their property seized by eminent domain for the deep geological repository. This dubious distinction persists despite many geological and hydrological flaws in the candidate site including rock fractures, high amounts of rainfall, broad uncertainty about groundwater movement through the rock body and migration of radioactivity from nuclear waste into aquifers for drinking and agricultural irrigation supplies for large populations.  

In addition to the environmental impacts, federal confiscation would adversely impact the deep historical significance of the area: the nearby town of Washington, the first town in the U.S. to be named after our first president, just after the Revolutionary War; numerous preserved stone arch masonry bridges; the Franklin Pierce Homestead, the home of the 14th President of the United States; the founding congregation and church of the Seventh Day Adventist denomination are examples. There is also the natural beauty of the area: forested hills, scenic lakes and river-ways. Much of this, along with picturesque, historic towns and villages would cease to exist if a national high-level radioactive waste dump opened in New Hampshire."

In fact, as the Beyond Nuclear backgrounder warned, in the waning days of the George W. Bush administration in late 2008, Energy Secretary Bodman issued a Report on the Need for a Second Repository that indeed listed both New Hampshire and Maine (and most of the rest of the Lower 48) on the target list.  (The map on page 12 showed this.)                 

Re: NRC's nuke waste con game deadline, Kevin also submitted the following additional comments: regarding nuclear industry whistleblower Oscar Shirani's revelations on Holtec dry cask Quality Assurance violations, and NRC dry cask storage inspector Dr. Ross Landsman's support for Shirani; a cover letter and backgrounder on dry cask storage problems; a cover letter, and the Statement of Principles for Safeguarding Nuclear Waste at Reactors, in support of Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS), signed by hundreds of environmental groups representing all 50 states; a cover letter, and the Beyond Nuclear fact sheet "Catastrophic Risks of GE BWR Mark I High-Level Radioactive Waste Storage Pools"; a cover letter, and Beyond Nuclear pamphlet "Routine Radioactive Releases from U.S. Nuclear Power Plants," as well as a chart, prepared by Russell Hoffman, showing into which particular organs specific radioactive contaminants lodge to cause harm in the human body; a cover letter, packet of materials from "A Mountain of Radioactive Waste 70 Years High" conference, and Beyond Nuclear pamphlet of the same title; a cover letter, and assorted humorous placards, prepared by NEIS for a "nuke waste con game" of "nuclear bingo" at NRC's public comment meeting in Oak Brook, IL; a cover letter, and Beyond Nuclear pamphlets "Dirty, Dangerous, and Expensive," as well as "Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing = Weapons Proliferation"; a cover letter, and sheet prepared by NEIS entitled "It All Boils Down To -- Do We Trust the NRC?".

In addition, Kevin had earlier submitted oral comments at a number of NRC public meetings:

Rockville, MD NRC HQ call-in public comment meeting, Dec. 9th (see NRC's transcript, including Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear's testimony at transcript pages 30-34, and again at transcript pages 60-62).

Perrysburg, OH NRC public comment meeting, Dec. 2nd:

Kevin made points site-specific to Great Lakes reactors, including to Palisades in MI and to Davis-Besse near Perrysburg, from minute 3:00 to 8:37 on a video recording of the public meeting, filmed by Kathy Barnes of Don't Waste MI (Part 4). (Kathy coordinates the Don't Waste MI Facebook page.)

(See the NRC transcript of the meeting, including Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear's comments from pages 41 to 45 of the transcript.)

NRC HQ (Rockville, MD) public comment meeting, Nov. 14th:

See the transcript from the meeting, including Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear's remarks from page 102-107.

Oak Brook, IL public comment meeting, Nov. 12th:

See the transcript from this public comment meeting, including Kevin Kamps from Beyond Nuclear's remarks at transcript pages 50 to 54.

NRC HQ public comment meeting, Rockville, MD, Oct. 1, 2013:

See the transcript of the meeting, including Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear's testimony at pages 37-41 of the transcript.

Friday
Dec202013

Environmental coalition meets NRC's "Nuclear Waste Confidence" DGEIS public comment deadline

Environmental coalition attorney Diane Curran

(The "away-from-reactor" so-called "centralized interim storage sites" (better dubbed de facto permanent surface parking lot dumps) considered as part and parcel of NRC's "Nuclear Waste Confidence" DGEIS would necessitate transportation, although this was downplayed to the point of being almost completely ignored by NRC.)

An environmental coalition of nearly three dozen groups, including Beyond Nuclear, has submitted comments on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) "Nuclear Waste Confidence" Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS). The coalition is represented by a team of attorneys, including Diane Curran (photo, left) of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg, and Eisenberg, LLP, Washington, D.C.; Mindy Goldstein, Director, and Jillian Kysor, Fellow, Turner Environmental Law Clinic, Emory University, Atlanta, GA; and Phillip Musegaas, Hudson River Program Director, and Deborah Brancato, Staff Attorney, Riverkeeper, Ossining, NY.

The coalition is also represented by a team of expert witnesses, including Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Takoma Park, MD; David Lochbaum, Director, Nuclear Safety Project, Union of Concerned Scientists, Chattanooga, TN; Dr. Gordon Thompson, Executive Director, Institute for Resource and Security Studies, Cambridge, MA; and Dr. Mark Cooper, Senior Research Fellow for Economic Analysis, Institute for Energy and the Environment, Vermont Law School, South Royalton, VT.

The environmental coalition's comments, as well as its expert witnesses' declarations, have been posted on the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) website, as well as at the bottom of a press release featuring the work of Dr. Cooper on the economic costs of irradiated nuclear fuel management. The coalition's comment and expert witness declarations are also posted at the NIRS website.

Curran, on behalf of three environmental groups (Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Riverkeeper, and SACE), in alliance with Natural Resource Defense Council, as well as four state attorneys general (CT, NJ, NY, and VT) won a landmark legal victory on June 8, 2012. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that NRC had to carry out an environmental impact statement on its "Nuclear Waste Confidence" policy and rule, including the on-site storage risks of irradiated nuclear fuel in pools and dry casks. The Dec. 20th public comment deadline on the DGEIS is a part of that court-ordered process.

Friday
Dec132013

NRC nuke waste con game: final written public comment submissions re: DGEIS due Friday, Dec. 20th!

Environmental coalition members from the Crabshell Alliance, Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Campaign, NIRS, PSR, NEIS, and Public Citizen "just say NO!" at the NRC HQ nuke waste con game public comment meeting on 11/14 in Rockville, MD. Photo credit David Martin and Erica Grey.

Thanks to all who submitted oral comments to NRC at the call-in on 12/9, the final public meeting re: NRC's bogus nuke waste con game Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS).

Please continue to submit your public comments to NRC via email, webform, fax, and/or snail mail. You can submit as many public comments as you want, between now and the final public comment deadline (Friday, Dec. 20th).

Sample comments, which you can use to help you write your own, have been provided by Beyond Nuclear and NIRS, as well as NEIS.

Additional ideas for public comments can be found in the reports back from the field hearings, at the link below. Key comments that need to be made again and again: It's time to stop making high-level radioactive waste! For that which already exists, the environmental consensus is to empty the pools into hardened on-site storage, where appropriate -- requiring a significant upgrade in dry cask storage safety, security, and environmental protection. More.