Michael Mariotte / Nuclear Information and Resource Service & Credo – 2013-07-30 12:26:23
(July 30, 213) — Congress is considering legislation that would establish “consolidated interim storage” sites for high-level radioactive waste. This would initiate the unnecessary transport of tens of thousands of casks of lethal radioactive waste on our roads and railways for the sole benefit of the nuclear power industry, while endangering the health and safety of millions of Americans.
As long as nuclear reactors generate this waste, “interim” waste sites would not decrease the number of places that store radioactive waste; rather, there would simply be more contaminated sites. Radioactive waste should be stored in dry hardened, secure on-site facilities until a permanent, scientifically-defensible and publicly-acceptable waste solution is implemented.
This waste should be moved only once: to a permanent site. Ending the generation of radioactive waste would be the most effective single step toward addressing our radioactive waste dilemma. Please vote against any legislation that would establish consolidated “interim” storage sites for radioactive waste.
Why is this important? Here’s the nuclear power industry’s plan to deal with the ever-growing problem of deadly radioactive waste piling up at nuclear reactors: get it off their sites and send tens of thousands of hot casks on America’s highways and railways to one or more “temporary” unprotected sites located anywhere but on their property.
Sound like a serious plan? Of course not. But some in Congress like the idea. Four members of the Senate Energy Committee have introduced S. 1240, which would include that plan as part of an overhaul of the nation’s radioactive waste laws.
The first hearing on this bill is Tuesday, July 30, 2013. Please tell Congress that “centralized interim storage” of radioactive waste — and the accompanying and completely unnecessary risk of a Mobile Chernobyl — is unacceptable. We need a permanent solution, not Fukushima Freeways.
The nuclear industry’s plan is nothing new. In fact, it’s the same plan they came up with 20 years ago, when NIRS first coined the term “Mobile Chernobyl.”
The public rose in opposition, and President Clinton vetoed an “interim” storage bill passed by Congress. The Senate upheld his veto. Now we have to do it again, and people power will make the difference.
If you’d like more background information, visit our Mobile Chernobyl website at www.nirs.org.
Senators Introduce Bipartisan,
Comprehensive Nuclear Waste Legislation
Bill Takes Immediate Steps To Safely Store Waste and Break Gridlock over Permanent Repository
US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
WASHINGTON, DC (June 27 2013) — Today four senior US senators introduced a bipartisan, comprehensive plan for safeguarding and permanently disposing of tens of thousands of tons of dangerous radioactive nuclear waste currently accumulating at sites dispersed across the country.
Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. — the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development — and Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, collaborated on the proposal, the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013 (S. 1240).
“Stalemate can’t solve our nation’s nuclear waste issues. This bill takes immediate steps to more safely store the most dangerous radioactive waste, and lays out a clear plan for a permanent solution,” Wyden said. “Senators Murkowski, Feinstein and Alexander deserve enormous credit for the work and creativity that made this bipartisan bill possible.”
“I’m pleased to have worked with Sens. Wyden, Feinstein, and Alexander to include language that gets us back on a path to addressing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle,” Murkowski said. “By moving forward on interim storage and a permanent repository through parallel tracks, the federal government can send a strong signal to utilities, ratepayers, and the American public that we will meet our obligations on used nuclear fuel.”
“This bipartisan bill — years in the making — will finally begin to address the dangerous, expensive absence of a comprehensive nuclear waste policy,” Feinstein said. “In addition to creating an independent Nuclear Waste Administration to manage nuclear waste, the bill authorizes the construction of interim storage facilities and permanent waste repositories, sited through a consent-based process and funded by fees currently collected from nuclear power ratepayers.
“The inability of the federal government to collect waste stored across the country at functioning power plants, decommissioned reactors and federal facilities is costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year. It’s time to finally put a policy in place to address this problem.”
“After 25 years of stalemate, this legislation puts us back on the road to finding safe places to dispose of used nuclear fuel,” Alexander said. “It does this in the obvious way: by making local, state and federal governments equal partners in the process of finding temporary and permanent storage for nuclear waste. This is important because nuclear power provides 60 percent of our reliable, air-pollution-free electricity.”
Currently there is no central repository for spent nuclear fuel, leaving fuel rods to be stored on-site at dozens of commercial nuclear facilities around the country, including areas that are at risk of earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters.
Millions of gallons of high-level radioactive waste from the nation’s nuclear weapons programs are also being stored at Department of Energy sites around the country.
The 2011 Fukushima disaster, combined with recent announcements of new radioactive waste leaks at the Hanford Site in Washington State add to the urgency of securing spent fuel and finding permanent repository for the nation’s nuclear waste.
The bill updates an April draft, after the Energy committee received more than 2,500 public comments on the measure. It includes establishment of a new nuclear waste administration and creates a consent-based process for siting nuclear waste facilities.
It also enables the federal government to address its commitment to managing commercial nuclear waste, limiting the costly liability the government bears for its failure to dispose of commercial spent fuel.
The integrated storage and repository system established by this legislation will expand opportunities for nuclear power to supply low-carbon energy, and will provide long-term protection of public health and safety for both commercial and defense high-level waste. The Energy and Natural Resources Committee is planning a hearing on the bill in July.
The date and witnesses will be announced when they are confirmed.
Summary of the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013
The Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013 is intended to implement the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future to establish a Nuclear Waste Administration and create a consent — based process for siting nuclear waste facilities.
The bill reflects the basic structure of the discussion draft released in April 2013, with modifications to the structure of the Administration and to the requirements linking storage facilities to the repository program.
More than 2,500 comments were received on the draft. The bill enables the federal government to fulfill its commitment to managing nuclear waste, ending the costly liability the government bears for its failure to dispose of commercial spent fuel.
The integrated storage and repository system established by this legislation will expand opportunities for nuclear power to supply carbon — free energy, and will provide long — term protection of public health and safety from both commercial and defense high — level waste. A Nuclear Waste Administration
The bill establishes a new, independent agency, headed by a single Administrator, appointed by the p resident and subject to confirmation by the Senate, to manage the nuclear waste program in place of DOE.
It also establishes an Oversight Board — composed of 5 members with staggered terms, appointed by the p resident and confirmed by the Senate — to oversee the new agency’s administration of the program.
The creation of an independent oversight board is a response to comments which raised concerns about the earlier framework for a board composed of Federal officials.
A Consent-Based Process for Consolidated Storage Facilities and a Repository
The bill directs the new agency to build a pilot spent fuel storage facility to store spent fuel from decommissioned nuclear power plants and emergency shipments from operating plants.
The agency is also directed to build one or more consolidated storage facilities to store non-priority spent fuel for utilities or defense wastes for DOE on a temporary basis. It also establishes separate — but similar — siting processes for storage facilities and one for repositories (steps unique to the repository process below are in italics).
To site a nuclear waste facility, the new agency must:
â€¢ establish technical siting guidelines to evaluate sites;
â€¢ solicit states and communities to volunteer sites;
â€¢ obtain state and local (and tribal if on an Indian reservation) cooperation to study sites, with cooperation agreements optional for storage sites and required for repository sites ;
â€¢ hold public hearings before characterizing sites, and before final determination of suitability for a repository;
â€¢ obtain state and local (and tribal if on an Indian reservation) consent to site a rep ository or storage facility ; and
â€¢ obtain licenses from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to construct and operate storage facilities or repositories.
The separation of storage facility and repository siting processes into two sections is a change from the earlier framework.
Additional differences include a requirement for t he Administrator to issue a request for proposals for a pilot storage facility within 180 days after enactment of the Act, and a requirement to issue guidelines pertaining to repositories no later than 1 year after enactment.
Linkage Between Storage Facilities and a Repository
The bill authorizes the Administrator to begin siting a pilot storage facility for priority waste immediately, and does not set waste volume restrictions on storage. The bill provides that for 10 years following enactment of the Act, the Administrator may continue to site new storage facilities for non-priority waste as long as funds have been obligated to carry out a parallel repository program.
After 10 years, the Administrator may site new storage facilities only if at least one site has been selected for evaluation as a potential location for a repository.