Saturday, May 18, 2013

[SDCPJ] Urgent: Senate nuclear waste bill unacceptable--comment now



Please go here to take action: http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5502/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=14113

"Interim" storage does not benefit the public; rather it is a long-time nuclear industry goal. The utilities are liable for radioactive waste when it's on their property; when it's moved outside their gates, we taxpayers are liable. That's the real reason the industry wants this non-solution to the waste problem.


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URGENT!

SENATE ENERGY COMMITTEE "DISCUSSION DRAFT" RADWASTE BILL IS UNACCEPTABLE

COMMENT TO COMMITTEE BY FRIDAY, MAY 24

NO "INTERIM" STORAGE; NO MOBILE CHERNOBYL


May 16, 2013

Dear Friends,

As we have been reporting to you for several months (for example,
in our April 17 letter about National Radioactive Waste Action Day), the Senate Energy Committee has been working on new and comprehensive radioactive waste policy legislation.

The lead sponsors--Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN)--have now released a "discussion draft" of this legislation.
You can read it and related documents on the Committee's website here.

In a somewhat unusual move, the Committee is accepting public comments on the draft bill. This is probably our final opportunity before a bill is formally introduced to make it clear: We will not accept "interim" storage of high-level radioactive waste; we will not accept our roads and railways burdened with thousands of casks of lethal nuclear waste moving to a "temporary" unsuitable location for the convenience of the nuclear power industry.

Add your voice now. Tell the Committee here that "interim" storage is unacceptable. Stop a Mobile Chernobyl. No Fukushima Freeways.

This discussion draft bill is modeled somewhat after the Department of Energy's Blue Ribbon Commission recommendations and on legislation introduced last Congress by retired Energy Committee chair Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). But unlike that bill, which linked an "interim" storage site to siting of a permanent repository, this discussion draft greatly weakens that link. And a separate proposal offered for comment by Sens. Feinstein and Alexander would weaken that linkage further. Without such linkage, the odds that any progress would be made toward a permanent solution to our radioactive waste problem grow slim indeed. Just the opposite; the absence of linkage makes it far more likely that a consolidated "interim" storage site would be a de facto permanent dump, regardless of whether it is suited for that.

The bill addresses issues beyond "interim" storage of waste; for example, taking the waste issue out of the Department of Energy and creating a new agency to handle the problem. But four of the eight questions the Committee asks for comment on address the "interim" storage issue, and our sample comments are limited to that issue. But please feel free to edit and expand on the sample letter provided on our action page. The eight questions are part of the documents available on the Senate Energy Committee's website.

In April, we provided several talking points on the radioactive waste issue; they are reproduced below. Feel free to adapt these if you choose to provide more extended comments than our sample letter. You can also find much more information and background about the issue on the
Mobile Chernobyl page of our website here.

Comments to the Committee are due by Friday, May 24, so act now.

Thanks for all you do,

Michael Mariotte
Executive Director
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
www.nirs.org
nirsnet@nirs.org

P.S. Your activism and financial support are what make our work possible.
Please make a tax-deductible donation here and receive the gifts of both our undying gratitude and a stronger movement for a nuclear-free carbon-free future. Contributors of $35 or more will also receive a one-year subscription to our international publication, The Nuclear Monitor, delivered via e-mail.

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Some Talking Points
*"Consolidated interim storage" (sometimes just called "storage" by nuclear backers) would not reduce the number of sites now storing radioactive waste. Rather, it would increase the number of sites by the number of "interim" sites. Irradiated fuel from reactors (which is what high-level waste is) is too radioactively and thermally hot to be sent anywhere when it first comes out of the reactor core. It must be stored in pools for about five years. Until reactors are closed, every reactor will remain a de facto waste dump.

*An average truck-sized radwaste cask would carry the radiological equivalent of 40 Hiroshima bombs; a rail cask would hold 200 Hiroshima bombs worth of radiation. Tens of thousands of these casks would travel our nation's roads, railways and waterways over the next 30 years--through major cities and across America's agricultural heartland. Accidents happen.

*"Interim" storage sites are by definition not suitable for permanent storage. Yet there is a real risk that they would become permanent sites. No state--understandably--wants a permanent storage site within its borders. "Interim" sites would provide the illusion of a solution and ease the pressure to find a permanent solution to our radioactive waste problem.

*And if a permanent site is found, then the waste would need to be moved again--a completely unnecessary risk. Accidents are far more likely to occur when the waste is moving than when it is stationary.

*"Interim" storage does not benefit the public; rather it is a long-time nuclear industry goal. The utilities are liable for radioactive waste when it's on their property; when it's moved outside their gates, we taxpayers are liable. That's the real reason the industry wants this non-solution to the waste problem.

*President Clinton vetoed interim storage legislation, and Congress upheld that veto. Nothing has changed that makes interim storage safer or more desirable since then. The only reason this is being considered is nuclear industry persistence.

*Current on-site storage of radioactive waste is inadequate. Fuel pools are overly full, are generally outside containment, and need offsite electric power to maintain cooling. Waste should be removed from pools at the earliest time possible and put into secure dry casks sited and hardened to prevent attack or destruction by natural disaster.
The anti-nuclear/environmental movement's Principles for Safeguarding Nuclear Waste at Reactors explain this HOSS concept. Read them here.

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