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Waste Confidence – No Confidence

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Nuclear waste disposal is an issue the industry has long failed to address. Earlier this year, Georgia WAND members traveled to Charlotte to advocate for safe nuclear waste storage, now its your turn to weigh in!

After a 2012 court mandate that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission could not have waste policies that operate on ‘confidence’ alone, the Commission is taking a scientific look at the risks of waste storage in a Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement and proposed Waste Confidence Rule.

These documents, which will guide nuclear waste policy, fail to adequately protect people or the environment.

Learn the basics below and then let the NRC know what you think! Nuclear waste, stored from coast to coast, will be a threat to public health for generations to come so make your voice heard on the issue! 

Submit your own comments to the NRC by Friday, December 20!

A problem with no solution.

Radioactive nuclear waste cannot be made safe or clean.

Radiation in nuclear waste is a threat to public health, damaging DNA and cells, leading to cancer, birth defects and more. There is no safe dose of radiation.

The United State’s current stockpile of nuclear waste, about 80,000 tons, will remain toxic for thousands of years and scientists have not found a storage facility that will be able to house the amount of waste we have let alone for the amount of time it will need to be safeguarded from the risks of both natural disasters and outside attacks.

The only solution to the problem of nuclear waste is to stop making more. The Waste Confidence rule doesn't move national policy toward that solution, quite the opposite, it strives to find a waste policy that will allow the NRC to license new reactors and create more of the same problem.

Putting communities at risk.

Consolidated storage of nuclear fuel, which the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future has officially recommended, would mean taking nuclear waste from the country’s reactor sites to a temporary storage facility and then moving it again, decades later, to a more permanent facility.

Consolidated storage is creating a bigger problem, rather than moving toward a solution. Transporting waste away from nuclear reactor sites to a temporary facility would put dangerous waste on our roads, rails and waterways and expose more communities to radioactive waste. Meanwhile, the companies producing the waste would be off the hook for managing it and the new temporary storage sites would require additional funds for security measures. High level nuclear waste should only be moved once and it should be kept as near as possible to the site that produced it.

NRC’s Waste Confidence policy assumes that all nuclear waste is the same, but new forms of waste, such as Mixed Oxide Plutonium fuel, slated to be produced as the Savannah River Site in South Carolina are more radioactive and dangerous as well as more difficult to transport and store.

NRC downplays the risks of pool fires by assuming that surrounding populations will be successfully evacuated. But nuclear utilities are allowed to store high level radioactive waste in pools for many decades after reactors permanently shutdown, in order to defer the costs of dry cask storage as far off into the future as possible, despite the inherent risks. At the same time, NRC allows utilities, via exemptions from regulations, to do away with 10-mile radius emergency planning zones as soon as 12-18 months post-reactor shutdown despite the lingering risk of storing HLRW in pools at such shutdown reactor sites. How can populations be evacuated if EPZs have been dismantled? (Nuclear Information Resource Service)

The health risk assessment for a spent fuel fire was done using only three different nuclear power plants (Ginna, Surry and Zion), ignoring the distinctive nature of each reactor in the US. Reactor sites all have different amounts of irradiated fuel that gives off different amounts of radioactivity. The surrounding human populations are not equal nor are they distributed in the same way-- the dose calculations couldn’t possibly be the same for all reactors. (Nuclear Information Resource Service)

Hindering Public Input

The proposed Waste Confidence Rule would effectively exclude public comments on nuclear waste production as part of future reactor licensing procedures. Because the rule would incorporate the draft GEIS’s assumption that nuclear waste can and will be safely stored indefinitely, discussion about waste storage would not be up for public discourse.
Long term storage

The draft GEIS fails to assume a permanent or temporary repository will be used for waste storage and instead assumes each reactor site will become its own nuclear waste dump. This is inconsistent with the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, in fact it’s what the NWPA was designed to avoid.

Conclusion

The draft Environmental Impact Statement is inconsistent with the Nuclear Waste Policy Act and does not adequately protect human life or the environment. It should be withdrawn. The proposed Waste Confidence rule does not move national policy toward a sustainable solution to nuclear waste management. Instead it strives to find a waste policy that will allow the NRC to license new reactors without public input regarding spent fuel storage. The proposed rule should be withdrawn.

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