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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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Monday
Mar052018

House lawmakers decry federal inaction on Yucca Mountain

As reported by Gary Martin in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

As the article reports:

“The majority of Nevadans agree that storing nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain is not a viable or sustainable solution,” said Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., in a letter to House and Senate appropriators urging them not to include funds for the project in an upcoming spending bill.

...Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., spoke before the lawmakers and reiterated the opposition in Nevada to storing nuclear waste produced in other states.

“Nevada is not a wasteland,” Titus said from the floor.

Titus has filed a bill that would require the federal government to get consent from states and local communities as a prerequisite to building a nuclear waste facility.

Gov. Brian Sandoval and the majority of the Nevada congressional delegation, including Sens. Dean Heller and Catherine Cortez Masto, oppose federal efforts to open Yucca Mountain.

Monday
Feb122018

Nevada has been blasted enough

An op-ed in the Las Vegas Sun by Judy Treichel of the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force makes clear that Nevadans still do not consent to "hosting" the entire country's highly radioactive waste dump.

Wednesday
Feb072018

Shimkus spews "alternative facts" in his push to "Screw Nevada (again)" on the U.S. House floor

U.S. Rep. Shimkus leads a tour of members of congress and their staff into the Yucca Mountain Exploratory Studies Facility tunnel, on April 26 (Chernobyl Day!), 2011. Each time Shimkus take such a tour, intended to boost prospect for reviving the cancelled project, it costs some $15,000 of federal taxpayer money. But than again, if it does open, the price tag would soar, to $100 billion or more.John Shimkus, the Illinois Republican U.S. Representative who authored H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017, is using bogus figures in his attempt to bring the bill to the House floor for a vote. See his recent write up, here.

Shimkus writes "$30 billion...has been quietly paid out in court-ordered claims...from a separate, off-budget account known as the judgement fund," to pay for damage awards to nuclear utilities due to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) breach of contract lawsuits. Most unwisely, DOE signed contracts with nuclear utilities in the mid-1980s, commiting to begin accepting title and liability for commercial irradiated nuclear fuel beginning in January 1998, and to haul it to a geologic repository for permanent disposal.

Actually, Shimkus's figure is a gross exaggeration. DOE itself has estimated that by 2020, the amount of such damage awards, at taxpayer expense (the Judgment Fund is housed at the U.S. Treasury; it is taxpayer-funded; it is the fund the federal government uses to pay damages when ordered to by the U.S. courts), would be around $12.3 billion. See point #12, on Page 6, of this 2010 backgrounder prepared by Beyond Nuclear, for documentation of this figure.

Each and every year, another $500 million or so, of taxpayer funding from the Judgment Fund, is awarded by the courts in damages, and forked over by DOE (well, DOJ and the U.S. Treasury, to be precise), for breach of contract.

Yet Shimkus claims that already over $30 billion has been doled out from the Judgment Fund, and by 2020 that figure will surmount $40 billion.

Shimkus's figures are off by some $27.7 billion, as compared to DOE's own estimate! He's more than 300% off!

This is not the first time Shimkus has played fast and loose with the truth.

Last year, shockingly, U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (Democrat-CA) informed his own constituents in San Luis Obispo, CA -- members of the anti-nuclear group Mothers for Peace (MFP) -- that he supported H.R. 3053. When MFP expressed deep concerns about the Yucca Mountain dump, Carbajal said the bill had nothing to do with Yucca Mountain. That is what he had been told by Shimkus. And Carbajal believed it, hook, line, and sinker.

Actually, the bill is entirely about the proposed Yucca dump. Carbajal has yet to withdraw his support for the bill, however.

On Oct. 1, 2015, Beyond Nuclear testified before Shimkus's subcommittee, at a hearing about the risks of transporting highly radioactive waste, at the invitation of the Democratic minority. Beyond Nuclear and Shimkus butted heads about facts and "alternative facts" (over a year before Trump's election and inauguration, after which Trump senior advisor Kellyanne Conway concocted the infamously telling phrase "alternative facts"), regarding highly radioactive waste shipping routes through the Chicago area, bound for NV (or so-called "interim storage" in NM and/or TX, for that matter), and how vulnerable those shipments would be to terrorist attack, as by an anti-tank weapon.

Please take action to stop Shimkus's "Screw Nevada (again)"* bill, which would launch Mobile Chernobyls, Floating Fukushimas, Dirty Bombs on Wheels, and Mobile X-ray Machines That Can't Be Turned Off, by the many thousands or tens of thousands through most states over the course of 50 years.

Please act ASAP to help stop this bill!  Both groups and individuals can take action. An environmental coalition of 120+ organizations has sent a letter to the U.S. House, urging opposition to H.R. 3053. The letter will be sent one more time, when the bill moves to the floor for a vote. There is still time to sign your group on if you haven't already. To sign your organization on, please fill out and and submit this Google form, or else directly email Sean Alcorn at NRDC your name, title, organization name, city and state.  Individuals, please contact your own U.S. Rep., and urge them to oppose H.R. 3053. Sierra Club has a webform you can fill out and submit to your U.S. Rep. SEED Coalition of Texas has launched a CREDO petition you can sign. You can also phone your U.S. Rep.'s D.C. office, via the Capitol Switchboard, at (202) 225-3121, by following the instructions. Or you can look up your U.S. Rep.'s direct contact info. here, by entering your zip code, clicking the FIND YOUR REP BY ZIP button, and following the links. To learn more about why H.R. 3053 is a dangerously bad idea, see Beyond Nuclear's Yucca Mountain burial dump, de facto permanent parking lot dump, and radioactive waste transport risk website sections. If you have taken action already, thank you very much. Please consider spreading the word as widely as possible, given the grave risks and high stakes!

Note that Shimkus also plays fast and loose with taxpayer money himself. See the photo and biline above.

Shimkus also has odd timing, or else is entirely tone deaf. In addition to his Chernobyl Day tour of Yucca in 2011, depicted above, he also held his kick off hearing on H.R. 3053 on Chernobyl Day, 2017!

*"The Screw Nevada Bill" is the most commonly used name for the amendments to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act enacted in 1987, that singled out Yucca Mountain as the sole target in the country for a high-level radioactve waste dump. Even Bob Halstead, director of the State Agency for Nuclear Projects, has dubbed H.R. 3053 the "Screw Nevada 2" bill.

Wednesday
Jan312018

Moapa tribal leader who led charge against coal plant, championed first large-scale solar plant on tribal land, dies at 44

As reported by the Las Vegas Sun.

As the article reports:

Anderson became one of the youngest chairmen ever when he took over at age 26. During his second term as chairman he helped change the energy and environmental landscape of the Southwest.

The Moapa Pauite reservation is near Las Vegas, NV.

Yucca Mountain, NV -- targeted for a national high-level radioactive waste dump -- is sacred to not only the Western Shoshone Indian Nation, but also to the Southern Paiute.

Wednesday
Jan242018

State of Nevada updates on resistance to the Yucca dump, and transport impacts on most states

Robert Halstead, the director of the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, spoke in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 24th at a Yucca Mountain educational event hosted by the Mayor of the City of Las Vegas, Carolyn Goodman. The event took place during the annual winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Beyond Nuclear attended the event, as did members of other environmental groups opposed to the highly radioactive waste dump long targeted at Yucca Mountain, NV. (More than a thousand environmental groups have opposed the Yucca dump over the past 30+ years, and still do.)

The title of Halstead's presentation was "Yucca Mountain Update and Transportation Impacts."

It should be pointed out that Beyond Nuclear, and many environmental allies, disagree with Halstead's position, stated on the final page of his power point presentation:

What Should Be Done? Implement BRC [Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future] recommendations on consolidated interim storage, with priority for shutdown reactors.

When Mayor Goodman then stated that Texas and New Mexico wanted to host centralized interim storage facilities (CISF) in their states, Karen Hadden of the SEED (Sustainable Energy & Economic Development) Coalition politely begged to differ. Karen -- an ally of Beyond Nuclear's in the fight against the Waste Control Specialists, LLC CISF targeted at Andrews County, TX, as well as the Holtec/Eddy-Lea [Counties] Energy Alliance CISF targeted at southeastern NM -- stated that TX and NM do not consent to these CISF schemes, a basic criterion required by the BRC's January 2012 Final Report itself.

Halstead also released an analysis of H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017. The analysis is posted online at the website of Dina Titus, Democratic U.S. Representative from Las Vegas, NV.

Although H.R. 3053 would, in enacted, authorize the CISFs targeted at TX and NM (and beyond), its main aim to expedite the opening of the Yucca dump, as well as to significantly increase the amount of highly radioactive waste that could be buried there (from 70,000 metric tons, to 110,000 metric tons).

This dramatic increase in the amount of highly radioactive waste to be buried at Yucca, would likewise increase the number of road, rail, and waterways shipments of irradiated nuclear fuel bound for Nevada along routes in 44 states plus the District of Columbia. As shown on Halstead's slide #5 of 12, the number of train cask shipments would increase from 9,495 to 21,909; the number of truck cask shipments would increase from 2,650 to 5,025.

See the following three reports prepared Dr. Fred Dilger, a consultant to the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, on projected transportation impacts to cities, states, and congressional districts, from coast to coast, if the Yucca dump were to open:

For additional info., see the State of NV Agency for Nuclear Project's website, especially its Nuclear Waste Transportation sub-section.