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Yucca Mountain

Yucca Mountain, the Nevada-based, scientifically flawed and politically unjust proposed high-level radioactive waste repository has now been canceled. However, pro-nuclear forces in Congress have not abandoned Yucca and funding is still allocated to the project.

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Friday
Mar272015

U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, stalwart opponent of Yucca dump, announces he won't seek re-election

U.S. Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid of NevadaU.S. Senator Harry Reid (Democrat from Nevada) has announced he won't seek re-election, and will retire 22 months from now. Reid, who has long served as either the U.S. Senate Majority or Minority Leader (depending on the number of Democrats serving in the chamber), has devoted his entire Senate career to successful opposition to the high-level radioactive waste dump targeted at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

In 1987, when the "Screw Nevada" bill was enacted into law, Reid was a rookie U.S. Senator. In "Screw Nevada," other targeted, more populous and politically powerful states -- such as Texas and Washington, as well as Northeastern states -- ganged up on Nevada, singling out Yucca Mountain as the sole location in the country to be further studied as a potential irradiated nuclear fuel and HLRW dump. This, despite the fact that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) already knew by then, via preliminary scientific studies, that the site was unsuitable.

But the nuclear lobbyists picked the wrong rookie Senator to mess with. For nearly three decades, Reid has led a bipartisan Nevada consensus that has blocked the dump at every turn. In 2000, he secured 34 Senate votes, enough to sustain President Clinton's veto of a congressional attempt to rush open the dump, despite incomplete scientific studies. In 2002, he secured 39 Senate votes against Yucca, the most ever. Coming off the Senate floor after that vote, Reid -- a former boxer -- spoke with environmental allies, saying "It's like at the bar. Sometimes, you've just got to take it out back."

Even during the pro-dump George W. Bush administration, Reid was able to put the brakes on multi-billion dollar annual Yucca dump budgets. Working closely with President Barack Obama, Reid convinced the new administration in 2009 to completely defund the project, and even move to withdraw DOE's construction and operating license application. This has resulted in the effective cancelation of the Yucca dump, and dismantlement of its personnel and physical infrastructure, in the past several years.

Even with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress pushing hard to revive the Yucca dump, Reid has continued his adamant opposition. Opponents to countless "Mobile Chernobyl" trucks, trains, and barges of HLRW traveling through most states, and to a radioactive waste dump guaranteed to leak massively if ever opened, owe a huge debt of gratitude to Democratic Leader, U.S. Senator Harry Reid.

Monday
Mar022015

Margene Bullcreek, leader of Skull Valley Goshute resistance to radioactive waste dump targeted at her community, has passed on

Margene Bullcreek. Photo by Gabriela Bulisova.It is with heavy hearts that we share the sad news that Margene Bullcreek passed on, on Sunday, March 1st, 2015. An In Memoriam has been issued by her colleague Ian Zabarte of the Native Community Action Council (NCAC), where Margene Bullcreek has long served as President.

As emphasized in a NIRS victory tribute, published in Sept., 2006, when the U.S. Department of the Interior effectively blocked the Private Fuel Storage, LLC high-level radioactive waste parking lot dump targeted at her community in Utah:

"The greatest commendations, of course, go to Margene Bullcreek and her organization Ohngo Gaudadeh Devia Awareness (OGDA)...". More.

Wednesday
Feb252015

NRC Commissioners to reveal votes on Nuke Waste Con Game Thursday, Feb. 25

Portrait of the current NRC Commission. Pictured from left to right: Commissioner Jeff Baran, Commissioner Kristine L. Svinicki, Chairman Stephan (sic) Burns and Commissioner William C. Ostendorff. (Please note, Chairman Burns' first named is correctly spelled Stephen. His first name is misspelled in the text, below this portrait, posted on NRC's homepage.)The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Electronic Information Exchange (EIE) Hearing Docket this morning served to following notice to intervening parties against old reactor license extensions, as well as proposed new reactor combined construction and operating license applications:

"NOTICE TO THE PARTIES IN:

Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant, Units 3 and 4, Docket Nos. 52-014-COL & 52-015-COL
Callaway Plant, Unit 1, Docket No. 50-483-LR
Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant, Units 3 and 4, Docket Nos. 52-034-COL & 52-035-COL
Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, Unit 1, Docket No. 50-346-LR
Diablo Canyon Power Plant, Units 1 and 2, Docket Nos. 50-275-LR & 50-323-LR
Fermi Nuclear Power Plant, Unit 3, Docket No. 52-033-COL
Fermi Nuclear Power Plant, Unit 2, Docket No. 50-341-LR

Indian Point Nuclear Generating Units 2 and 3, Docket Nos. 50-247-LR & 50-286-LR
Levy County Nuclear Power Plant, Units 1 and 2, Docket Nos. 52-029-COL & 52-030-COL
North Anna Power Station, Unit 3, Docket No. 52-017-COL
Seabrook Station, Unit 1, Docket No. 50-443-LR
Sequoyah Nuclear Plant, Units 1 and 2, Docket Nos. 50-327-LR & 50-328-LR
South Texas Project, Units 3 and 4, Docket Nos. 52-012-COL & 52-013-COL
South Texas Project, Units 1 and 2, Docket Nos. 50-498-LR & 50-499-LR
Turkey Point, Units 6 and 7, Docket Nos. 52-040-COL & 52-041-COL
Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, Unit 2, Docket No. 50-391-OL
William States Lee III Nuclear Station, Units 1 and 2, Docket Nos. 52-018-COL & 52-019-COL

The Commission has scheduled a tentative Affirmation Session for Thursday, February 26, 2015, 12:55 p.m. EST, that addresses the Petitions to Suspend Reactor Licensing Decisions and Reactor License Renewal Decisions Pending Issuance of "Waste Confidence" Safety Findings, filed on Multiple Dockets.

Note: This session will be publicly webcast.  Please use the link below to view the session.

http://www.nrc.gov/public-involve/public-meetings/webcast-live.html ".

The NRC Commissioners' votes are relevant to the proposed (now canceled since 2009) Yucca Mountain dump in Nevada. NRC's "nuke waste con game" had assumed (from 1984 to 2012, when it was declared bankrupt by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in New York v. NRC) that a repository was a sure thing. For almost that entire length of time, Yucca Mountain, Nevada was the targeted repository (it was singled out, beginning in 1987, under the "Screw Nevada bill.")

At first, the NRC assumed a repository would open between 2007 to 2010. It later changed its prediction to 2025. Finally, by 2010, it had decided against a date certain for the opening of the Yucca dump (perhaps because the Obama administration had defunded it completely, and even moved to withdraw the construction and operating license application in 2009), although it still expressed vague confidence that a repository would be available "when needed."

The June 2012 New York v. NRC court ruling pulled the rug out from under NRC's very optimistic assumptions on the availability of a repository "when needed." The court ordered NRC to rewrite the Nuclear Waste Confidence rule, and to carry out an Environmental Impact Statement, and address the environmental and other impacts in the event that a repository never becomes available. Although NRC went through the motions of obeying the court order, from 2012 to 2014, it did a very shallow job -- a legally insufficient one, actually. NRC's flagrant flouting of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Administrative Procedures Act (APA), and the 2012 court order in New York v. NRC means this issue will very likely go back to federal court, if and when NRC moves to grant old reactor license extensions, or proposed new reactor construction and operating license, which it appears poised to do, by scheduling Thursday's Affirmation Session.

As indicated by the bolded text above, Beyond Nuclear is directly, officially intervening against the 20-year license extensions proposed at Davis-Besse, OH (a Three Mile Island twin design), Fermi 2, MI (a Fukushima Daiichi twin design), and Seabrook, NH. In addition, Beyond Nuclear is an official intervenor against the proposed new reactor at Fermi 3, MI.

Thus, the NRC Commissioners will rule, on Feb. 26th, on a coalition of environmental intervenors' Petition to Suspend Licensing and Re-licensing of Reactors. That Petition was filed on Sept. 29, 2014, by some three dozen organizations, engaged in the 27 pending, individual reactor NRC licensing proceedings listed above.

As explained by Diane Curran and Mindy Goldstein, the attorneys representing the environmental coalition, "the Petition accompanied [the groups'] contentions challenging the NRC's failure to make Atomic Energy Act-required Waste Confidence safety findings in those cases." (Attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo serves as the environmental coalition legal counsel in the Davis-Besse and Fermi 2 & 3 proceedings listed above.)

The Petition, as well as the contentions in the individual proceedings, would form the basis for an appeal to the federal courts regarding NRC's 2014 Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel rule and environmental impact statement.

Although NRC Commissioners Kristine L. Svinicki and William C. Ostendorff voted in favor of the finalization of the Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel rule and environmental impact statement last year, the other two NRC Commissioners -- Chairman Stephen G. Burns, and Commissioner Jeff Baran -- were not yet serving in 2014. (The fifth seat on the NRC Commission currently remains unfilled.) See the photo, above left.

Thursday
Feb122015

Rep. Shimkus (R-IL) to visit $11 billion hole in the ground in desert, again

Members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Economy are accompanied by their staff as the take a tour of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 (File, JESSICA EBELHAR/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL)No, it's not a headline in the satirical Onion newspaper, but it could be. As reported by Steve Tetreault in the Las Vegas Review Journal, U.S. Representative John Shimkus (Republican-Illinois), chairman of the Environment and the Economy Subcommittee, plans to visit the shutdown, boarded up, fenced off Yucca Mountain Project site for the second time in four years.

His last visit in April 2011, on the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe's 25th annual commemoration, cost U.S. taxpayers $15,000. But that's nothing compared to the $8 billion of ratepayer money, and $3 billion of taxpayer money, wasted at Yucca since the early 1980s.

Yucca dump advocates, like Shimkus, often adjust for inflation, and round up, to say $15 billion has been wasted at Yucca. But when they say "wasted," they mean because the project has been canceled. They would like to see another $100 billion or so spent there, to license, construct, open, and operate the dump.

As reported by the article: "“If Mr. Shimkus wants to come spend money in Nevada, then by all means,” Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said. “But what he will find at Yucca Mountain is a boarded-up, closed facility. Yucca Mountain is dead and no amount of visits by Mr. Shimkus and the pro-Yucca fanatics will change that.”

Shimkus's support for one of nuclear lobbyists' top legislative priorities should come as no surprise, however. He is from the most nuclear powered state in the Union (see NEIS's "Nuclear Illinois" map). His district includes the Honeywell uranium conversion plant in Metropolis -- an essential step in the uranium fuel chain, and the only such facility in the U.S.

Saturday
Feb072015

Many have tried, all have failed // Washington Examiner: GOP must overcome Reid to get to Yucca nuclear storage

As shown in Jim Day's political cartoon (be sure to count the toes) in the Las Vegas Review Journal, the President Obama zeroed out funding, and ordered his DOE to withdraw the license application, in 2010.U.S. Senator Harry Reid's (D-NV) Communications Director, Adam Jentleson, put it concisely with that Tweet above, in response to a Washington Examiner article.

Even as Minority Leader in a Republican majority Senate, Reid can be counted on to block any attempt to resurrect the long-canceled high-level radioactive waste dump targeted at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, as he has done for decades, ever since the "Screw Nevada bill" was passed into law in 1987.

In 2010, President Obama zeroed out funding for the Yucca Mountain Project, and ordered the U.S. Department of Energy to withdraw the construction and operating license application.