Lethal High-Level Waste

Background

No High-Level Waste To New Mexico

No Nuclear Waste
Photo Courtesy of No Nuclear Waste Aqui

"The most toxic and dangerous type of radioactive waste created by the nuclear industry"

This is waste generated by nuclear power plants called 'high-level radioactive waste' (HLW), also known as 'spent' or 'irradiated' fuel. This waste contains plutonium, uranium, strontium, and cesium; and will be radioactive for millions of years.

It is not like the waste currently stored at the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) or any other waste site that exists today in the U.S.: it is far worse.

Two companies are proposing to build waste facilities near Carlsbad and Hobbs for the most toxic and dangerous type of radioactive waste created by the nuclear industry.

Holtec International is working with the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance, LLC (ELEA) to apply for a license to build a Consolidated Interim Storage (CIS) facility approximately halfway between Carlsbad and Hobbs, and 16 miles north of WIPP.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has declared the Holtec/ELEA application complete, NRC initiated a public comment period with 60 days for public comment. Note that transport of this waste poses risks to the environment and all life located near transportation routes.

Holtec proposal:

  • New CIS facility to store 100,000 metric tons of HLRW, with the potential to increase to 120,000 metric tons for 120 years
  • Shallow sub-surface burial system

New Mexicans and Texans are fighting the attempted licensing of these two proposed CIS facilities - Waste Control Specialists near Andrews, Texas and Eddy Lee/Holtec International east of Carlsbad, New Mexico.

These sites and any transport to these sites are not only dangerous but environmentally unjust. These sites present clear examples of environmental racism.

New Mexico's demographic is largely Latino. There are many communities of color, especially in the southern part of the state where the sites are being proposed. People of color would be disproportionately affected if the Eddy Lee/Holtec CIS site were licensed and constructed.

New Mexico and Texas do not consent to either proposed CIS facility and are fighting to avoid the environmental injustice and the unnecessary shipment of irradiated high-level nuclear waste through their communities.

NRC Environmental Report

Here's the Federal Register Notice

Consolidated Interim Storage Handout

A Better Option: Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS)

Hardened On-Site Storage

Overview

Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS) is a community-based concept that aims to protect the public from the threats posed by the current vulnerable storage of commercial irradiated fuel.


History

For decades, high level radioactive waste has accumulated at reactor sites and continues to do so as nuclear reactors generate more waste. Without a credible plan to permanently isolate it, storage pools, where irradiated nuclear waste is currently stored until it becomes less hot, have been tightly packed and re-racked to accommodate all the waste.

Unfortunately, the pools and dry casks have no robust containment. If the cooling pumps stopped operating or the water in the pools drained out, temperatures would quickly increase, as happened in Fukushima Japan, and could result in a similar disaster.

cask storage at reactor sites
Current dry cask storage at reactor sites (pictured above) is extremely vulnerable. There is often nothing more than a chain-link fence and a short distance that separates the highly radioactive waste containers and public access.

Establishing interim hardened on-site storage (HOSS) is a top priority. Hardened on-site storage allows waste generators to store high level waste as close to the site of generation as possible, thereby exposing fewer people to radiation, as safely as possible.

Rather than storing dozens of vulnerable dry-casks next to each other in the open air, the HOSS Principles established by concerned citizens mandate:

  • Irradiated fuel must be stored as safely as possible as close to the site of generation as possible;
  • HOSS facilities must not be regarded as a permanent waste solution, and thus should not be constructed underground and the waste must be retrievable;
  • The facility must have real-time radiation and heat monitoring for early detection of problems with containers;
  • The overall objective of HOSS should be that the amount of releases projected in even severe attacks should be low enough that the storage system would be unattractive as a terrorist target;
  • Placement of individual canisters that makes detection difficult from outside the site boundary.

Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS) is supported by organizations in all 50 states. The Principles of Securing Nuclear Waste at Nuclear Reactor Sites are posted here. It would provide better security at reactor sites with robust dry storage and community oversight, including real-time monitoring of heat and radiation. HOSS is rooted in values of community protection and environmental justice and will provide increased protection from human or natural disasters, like terrorist attacks and earthquakes

HOSS facilities are not permanent waste solutions, and therefore should not be constructed deep underground as the waste must be retrievable. However, they are a workable solution that will allow us to explore scientifically sound, and socially and environmentally just long-term management systems.

Nuclear Power Has No Place in a Green Energy uture

Because of: Time Delay, Success of Renewables, Huge Costs, Dangers, Weapons Connection, and Wastes

from Yahoo News, 21 Oct 21, ”…….Practical concerns also temper enthusiasm for a nuclear future. The next generation of reactors, heralded as a game changer by supporters, still haven’t been proven in the real world. Even if those technologies are as revolutionary as advertised, skeptics say it could take decades before they make a real difference in the global energy grid — too long if the worst outcomes of climate change are to be avoided.

Renewable energy technologies can be enough on their own

“The drawbacks to nuclear are compounded by the burgeoning success of renewables — both solar and wind are getting cheaper and more efficient, year after year. There is also a growing realisation that a combination of renewables, smart storage, energy efficiency and more flexible grids can now be delivered at scale and at speed — anywhere in the world.” — Jonathon Porritt, Guardian

The world doesn’t have time to wait for next-gen nuclear

“When it comes to averting the imminent effects of climate change, even the cutting edge of nuclear technology will prove to be too little, too late. Put simply, given the economic trends in existing plants and those under construction, nuclear power cannot positively impact climate change in the next ten years or more.” — Allison Macfarlane, Foreign Affairs

A major ramp-up in nuclear technologies isn’t economically feasible

“While nuclear power may have once been cheaper than wind or solar, the economics have since changed dramatically. Nuclear power plants are very expensive to build and the economics of nuclear power are getting steadily worse. By contrast, renewables continue to come down in price.” — Ian Lowe, Conversation

There’s no way to guarantee that nuclear plants will be safe

“People around the world have witnessed the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents. It is more than enough to believe that a safe nuclear power plant is nothing but a myth.” — Jang Daul, Korea Times

More nuclear power could lead to more nuclear weapons

“Some nations — India and Pakistan, and in all probability Israel — became nuclear powers after originally seeking nuclear technology for research or to develop nuclear power. … This is important: The technology used to turn on lights or charge mobile phones shouldn’t need to involve national or international defence apparatus.” — Editorial, Nature

Nuclear waste is still a major problem

“Nuclear waste lasts for hundreds of thousands of years before they are half-decayed. Our United States government — perhaps the longest continuous government in the world — is only 232 years old. Who will be around to manage uranium wastes?” — David Ross, Courier-Journal

Atomic Histories & Nuclear Testing

LANL’s Central Mission: Los Alamos Lab officials have recently claimed that LANL has moved away from primarily nuclear weapons to “national security”, but what truly remains as the Labs central mission? Here’s the answer from one of its own documents:

LANL’s “Central Mission”- Presented at: RPI Nuclear Data 2011 Symposium for Criticality Safety and Reactor Applications (PDF) 4/27/11

Billions of Taxpayer Dollars to be Spent on Plutonium Pit Production – NNSA Chooses Speed Over Safety, Condones Potential Lethal Radioactive Doses to Public

Santa Fe, NM – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency with the Department of Energy, is no longer pursuing a safety class active confinement system at PF-4, the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s plutonium pit manufacturing facility. This is a long-running battle between the independent Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) and NNSA.

The Safety Board has strongly recommended active confinement systems since 2004, reporting that they “will continue to function during an accident, thereby ensuring that radioactive material is captured by filters before it can be released into the environment.” [i] However, a few years ago NNSA tried to kill the messenger by seriously restricting DNFSB access to NNSA nuclear facilities across the country.

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NukeWatch Compilation of the DOE/NNSA FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

LANL FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

Livermore Lab FY 2020 Budget Chart – Courtesy TriValley CAREs – VIEW

Updates

Energy secretary: We must find a solution for nuclear waste

“People feel, you know, this was not the deal when these [nuclear power] plants were built.”

BY AP NEWS | apnews.com

WATERFORD, Conn. (AP) — It is critical to find a solution for storing the nation’s spent nuclear fuel, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Friday during a visit to a nuclear power plant in Connecticut.

Granholm was invited to tour Millstone Nuclear Power Station in Waterford by Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, the local congressional member. They are both working to change how spent nuclear fuel is stored nationwide to solve a decadeslong stalemate.

Spent fuel that was meant to be stored temporarily at current and former nuclear plant sites nationwide is piling up. Some of it dates to the 1980s.

Bill Reignites Holtec Nuclear Waste Debate

“Interim in this case effectively means permanent…We have great concern about that public safety component of any private waste moving through the state to a facility” — Sarah Cottrell Propst, the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department secretary.

BY THERESA DAVIS / JOURNAL STAFF WRITER Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal February 1, 2022 abqjournal.com

ELEA/Holtec storage ground view
Rendering of proposed ELEA/Holtec “storage” plan for commercial reactor spent fuel rods in southeast New Mexico.

A bill aimed at banning disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in New Mexico has reignited debate over Holtec International’s plans for an interim nuclear waste storage facility between Carlsbad and Hobbs.

Senate Bill 54, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, cleared the Senate Conservation Committee 5-3 on Tuesday with no recommendation.

The U.S. does not have a permanent storage site for the nation’s spent nuclear fuel.

Nuclear Colonialism in the Age of the Ban Treaty January 25, 2022

Nuclear Colonialism in the Age of the Ban Treaty January 25, 2022

The Affected Communities Working Group of the Nuclear Ban Treaty Collaborative hosted a discussion marking the one-year anniversary of the entry into force of the nuclear ban treaty on January 25, 2022.

“…That’s how the NRC operates – they want to just run the script and get it done and they’ll answer all your questions “later.” So the next step for us is to go into higher court and see if we can at least get some attention drawn to the very fact that giving them a license is illegal.

The National Waste Policy Act does not allow private organizations to move commercial waste from commercial facilities.

So there’s that problem, and then of course we have to consider that they don’t have all our questions answered yet, like: Who owns the waste? Where is it going to go and who is going to own it? And on the transportation route who is going to own it? And when it gets to the site? There’s no telling, there’s no answer – we don’t know yet. So we have all these questions that haven’t been answered.”

“My question is: Will this #nuclearwaste ever leave? Part of NEPA says that these consolidated interim storage (CIS) sites are temporary. For how long? 30? 40? 50? 100 years? We have to be careful,”

– Rose Garnder with the Alliance for Environmental Strategies in Eunice, New Mexico

New Mexico, Texas Lawmakers Oppose Interim Storage Partners Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Plans

NM administration’s (Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham) latest opposition to the TEXAS dump:

New Mexico Environment Department comments to NRC, opposing ISP CISF 0.37 miles from NM state line, in TX

Latest statement of opposition from the Texas governor, as posted Nov. 3rd on the Beyond Nuclear website, and updated Nov. 5th:

Texas Governor Abbott expresses strong opposition to ISP/WCS CISF, in written DEIS comments to NRC

See the governor’s Nov. 3rd letter to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in the form of written comments on the Interim Storage Partners/Waste Control Specialists Consolidated Interim Storage Facility Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Accompanying press release:

For Immediate Distribution  |  November 5, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826

Governor Abbott Sends Letter Opposing Storage Of Spent Nuclear Fuel In Andrews County

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott has sent a letter to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) opposing construction of a storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in Andrews County, Texas. The facility, proposed by Interim Storage Partners (ISP), would take spent nuclear fuel from around the country and store it on the surface of the Permian Basin. The Governor urges the NRC to deny ISP’s license application, highlighting the unique environmental risk of a terrorist attack that could shut down the world’s largest producing oilfield through a major radioactive release.

 

“The proposed ISP facility imperils America’s energy security because it would be a prime target for attacks by terrorists, saboteurs, and other enemies,” reads the letter. “This location could not be worse for storing ultra-hazardous radioactive waste. Having consulted with numerous state agencies, including the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the Texas Department of Transportation, I urge the NRC to deny ISP’s license application.”

 

View the Governor’s Letter

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Why should NM store nation’s nuclear waste?

ARTICLE BY: LAURA WATCHEMPINO | MULTICULTURAL ALLIANCE FOR A SAFE ENVIRONMENT, PUEBLO OF ACOMA

If the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s conclusion that it’s safe to move spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants across the country to a proposed storage facility in Lea County sounds vanilla-coated, it’s because the draft environmental impact statement for a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility submitted by Holtec International did not address how the casks containing the spent fuel would be transported to New Mexico.

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More time sought for public input on nuclear fuel proposal

ARTICLE BY: SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN | washingtontimes.com

FILE – In this April 29, 2015, file photo, an illustration depicts a planned interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in southeastern New Mexico as officials announce plans to pursue the project during a news conference at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque, N.M. Federal regulators are recommending licensing a proposed multibillion-dollar complex in southern New Mexico that would temporarily store spent fuel from commercial nuclear reactors around the United States. But the preliminary recommendation of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is making waves with critics who say the agency did not look closely enough at potential conflicts with locating the facility in the heart of one of the nation’s busiest oil and gas basins. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation are requesting that federal regulators extend the public comment period for an environmental review related to a multibillion-dollar complex that would store spent nuclear fuel from commercial power plants around the United States.

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GOP lawmaker accuses administration of ‘playing politics’ with Yucca Mountain reversal

“The Trump Administration again proposes to cut DOE’s budget — by 8 percent overall, and by an astounding 35 percent in non-defense programs. This will limit America’s future by drastically reducing or eliminating programs critical for meeting our future energy needs and assuring our security,” – Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Energy and Water Development

ARTICLE BY: RACHEL FRAZIN | thehill.com

© Cameron Lancaster

Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse (Wash.) accused the Trump administration of “playing politics” on Thursday with its reversal on funding for a nuclear waste repository in Nevada. 

“I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to see this administration playing politics with something as important as completing the permanent solution to our nation’s high-level nuclear waste,” Newhouse said during a hearing on the administration’s proposed Department of Energy (DOE) budget.

“This budget is … a total waste of resources and a distraction from solving this very important issue,” he added.

President Trump announced this month that he no longer supports funding the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site, reversing his position on a controversial matter in a key state in November’s elections. The change was reflected in his budget proposal for fiscal year 2021. 

Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said during the hearing that the administration would not proceed with either licensing for Yucca Mountain or an interim storage facility.

“My understanding [is] under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act we are prohibited from starting construction on an interim facility, a federal facility,” Brouillette said.

Democrats also criticized the administration over cuts included in the budget proposal.

“The Trump Administration again proposes to cut DOE’s budget — by 8 percent overall, and by an astounding 35 percent in non-defense programs. This will limit America’s future by drastically reducing or eliminating programs critical for meeting our future energy needs and assuring our security,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, in her opening statement.  

“Your budget proposes deep and arbitrary cuts that threaten progress one one of our most pressing challenges and that is climate change. We can be a leader in exporting clean energy technologies, but not under your budget request,” Kaptur added later in the hearing.

In response, Brouillette said, “Renewable technologies are becoming somewhat mature in the marketplace, so for us to focus again on these technologies that are now commercially widely available seems to us to be inappropriate.”

Trump’s budget request would reduce spending significantly at several energy and environment-related agencies, including the energy department. Trump has consistently proposed cutting funding such agencies, and Congress has routinely ignored those proposals and instead increased funding.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

US, critics split on whether tech made nuke shipments safer

“There’s enough high-level nuclear waste awaiting disposal in the U.S. to fill a football field 65 feet (20 meters) deep. Few states want to house it within their borders.”

“The public defines ‘safe’ as zero risk…the technical community defines ‘safe’ as complying with regulatory standards.” – Robert Halstead, head of the Agency for Nuclear Projects, is currently fighting plutonium shipments to Nevada and spent nuclear fuel transfers to the proposed Yucca Mountain dump.

BY: SCOTT SONNER | phys.org

The era of significant rail transport of weapons, which occurred from roughly 1975 to 1992, was perhaps the most publicly visible period for OST. There were numerous anti-nuclear protests associated with rail transportation during that time. Credit: DOE

The plutonium core for the first atomic weapon detonated in 1945 was taken from Los Alamos National Laboratory to a test site in the New Mexico desert in the backseat of a U.S. Army sedan.

Officials put other bomb parts inside a metal container, packed it into a wooden crate and secured it in the steel bed of a truck under a tarp, the U.S. Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration says in a historical account.

Grainy black-and-white photos show special agents and armed military police accompanying the shipment nearly 75 years ago.

An Atomic Energy Commission courier in the late 1950s armed with an M3 submachine gun at the cab of a bobtail truck that carried high explosives. Behind the truck is a Ford ranch wagon used as an escort vehicle. Credit: DOE

“Nuclear materials transportation has evolved since then,” the department posted online last year.

Today, radioactive shipments are hauled in double-walled steel containers inside specialized trailers that undergo extensive testing and are tracked by GPS and real-time apps.

But whether shipping technology has evolved enough to be deemed safe depends on whom you ask.

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RCLC Hears Talk On Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility

The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities (RCLC) Board met Thursday in Española.

RCLC Hears Talk On Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility. Scott Kovac of Nuclear Watch New Mexico expressing his concerns during the public comment portion of Thursday's meeting. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Scott Kovac of Nuclear Watch New Mexico expressing his concerns during the public comment portion of Thursday’s meeting. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

BY BONNIE J. GORDON | ladailypost.com

The meeting included a presentation by Holtec International Program Director Ed Mayer describing the safety features of a proposed storage site in southern New Mexico should the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issue the New Jersey-based company a 40-year license. If that happens, Holtec would build a multibillion-dollar site to temporarily store spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors around the United States.

“Our job is to prove the facility is safe and secure,” Mayer said.

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New Mexico Is Divided Over The ‘Perfect Site’ To Store Nation’s Nuclear Waste


“Why should we be the ones to take this negative project on and put up with the consequences?”
says Rose Gardner, a florist who lives 35 miles from the proposed site. “We know it’s supposed to be consent-based. They’re not getting consent. The actual people aren’t for it. And without community support, it won’t go.”

BY NATHAN ROTT | npr.org (originally published April 11, 2019)

Thirty-five miles out of Carlsbad, in the pancake-flat desert of southeast New Mexico, there’s a patch of scrub-covered dirt that may offer a fix — albeit temporarily — to one of the nation’s most vexing and expensive environmental problems: What to do with our nuclear waste?

Despite more than 50 years of searching and billions of dollars spent, the federal government still hasn’t been able to identify a permanent repository for nuclear material. No state seems to want it.

So instead, dozens of states are stuck with it. More than 80,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel, a still-radioactive byproduct of nuclear power generation, is spread across the country at power plants and sites in 35 states.

The issue has dogged politicians for decades. Energy Secretary Rick Perry recently described the situation as a “logjam.” But some hope that this remote, rural corner of New Mexico may present a breakthrough.

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Nuclear Waste Storage Concerns Raised By Panel Members During Santa Fe Forum

Participating in a panel on nucelar waste in New Mexico Wednesday in Santa Fe
Participating in a panel on nucelar waste in New Mexico Wednesday June 19, 2019 in Santa Fe were, from left, Don Hancock, Sally Rodgers, Rep. Christine Chandler and State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com

BY MAIRE O’NEILL
maire@losalamosreporter.com

Multiple concerns were raised by panel members Wednesday June 21, 2019 during a forum on nuclear waste in the state of New Mexico hosted by the Santa Fe Democratic Party Platform and Resolutions Committee at the Center for Progress and Justice in Santa Fe.

Land Commissioner Garcia Richard said her office has direct oversight of mineral leasing at the proposed Holtec site. She made public a letter she sent to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission expressing her concerns about representations made by Holtec to the NRC and New Mexicans about its control of the proposed site as well as agreements it claims to have secured from the state Land Office. She said while the Eddy-Leah County Energy Alliance LLC privately owns the surface of the proposed site, the State Land Office owns the mineral estate and that has not been disclosed by Holtec.

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LETTER: New Mexico governor says no to high-level nuclear waste


FILE – In this Jan 7, 2019, file photo, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks at a news conference in Albuquerque, N.M. Lujan Grisham is opposed to plans by a New Jersey-based company to build a multibillion-dollar facility in her state to temporarily store spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors around the United States. Gov. Grisham sent a letter Friday, June 7, 2019, to U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, saying the interim storage of high-level waste poses significant and unacceptable risks to residents, the environment and the region’s economy. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras, File)

mynorthwest.com June 7, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s governor said Friday she’s opposed to plans by a New Jersey-based company to build a multibillion-dollar facility in her state to temporarily store spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors around the U.S.

In a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the interim storage of high-level radioactive waste poses significant and unacceptable risks to residents, the environment and the region’s economy.

She cited the ongoing oil boom in the Permian Basin, which spans parts of southeastern New Mexico and West Texas, as well as million-dollar agricultural interests that help drive the state’s economy.

Any disruption of agricultural or oil and gas activities as a result of a perceived or actual incident would be catastrophic, she said, adding that such a project could discourage future investment in the area.

“Establishing an interim storage facility in this region would be economic malpractice,” she wrote.

Holtec International has defended its plans, citing unmet obligations by the federal government to find a permanent solution for dealing with the tons of waste building up at nuclear power plants.

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Halting Holtec – A Challenge for Nuclear Safety Advocates

The loading of 3.6 million pounds of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel has been indefinitely halted at the San Onofre independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI), operated by Southern California Edison and designed by Holtec International.

BY JAMES HEDDLEcounterpunch.org

Last month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) fined Southern California Edison an unprecedented $116,000 for failing to report the near drop of an 54 ton canister of radioactive waste, and is delaying giving the go-ahead to further loading operations until serious questions raised by the incident have been resolved.

Critics have long been pointing out that locating a dump for tons of waste, lethal for millions of years, in a densely populated area, adjacent to I-5 and the LA-to-San Diego rail corridor, just above a popular surfing beach, in an earthquake and tsunami zone, inches above the water table, and yards from the rising sea doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense from a public safety standpoint.

The near drop incident last August, revealed by a whistleblower, has drawn further attention to the many defects in the Holtec-designed and manufactured facility.  It has been discovered that the stainless steel canisters, only five-eights inches thick, are being damaged as they are lowered into the site’s concrete silos.  Experts have warned that the scratching or gouging that is occurring makes the thin-walled canisters even more susceptible to corrosion-induced cracking in the salty sea air, risking release of their deadly contents into the environment and even of hydrogen explosions.

Furthermore, critics point out, these thin-walled canisters are welded shut and cannot be inspected, maintained, monitored or repaired.

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Federal nuclear board nixes request for hearing on New Mexico waste facility

ELEA/Holtec storage ground view
Artist Rendering of proposed ELEA/Holtec “storage” plan for commercial reactor spent fuel rods in southeast New Mexico

A federal board that oversees commercial nuclear materials and licenses said Tuesday it has rejected a request by a group of opponents over a proposed nuclear waste storage site in Southern New Mexico.

Holtec International, a New Jersey-based company specializing in nuclear reactor technology, is waiting on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to approve its license for an expansive facility that could be used to hold all of the nation’s spent nuclear fuel — radioactive uranium left over from power production.

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WIPP Bulging Barrel

Critics: WIPP proposal would allow more nuclear waste storage

Critics: WIPP proposal would allow more nuclear waste storage
By Rebecca Moss | sfnewmexican.com
Sep 19, 2018 Updated Sep 19, 2018

As the public comment period closes Thursday on modifications to a state permit allowing the federal government to store nuclear waste at a southeastern New Mexico repository, critics are decrying the changes as an effort to increase storage capacity at the site and are accusing the state Environment Department of rushing the approval process.

The U.S. Department of Energy and Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC, a private contractor that manages the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, submitted a request early this year to change the way radioactive waste at the site is measured.

They want to measure the waste by the volume inside each waste drum rather than by the total number of containers at the site. WIPP can store a maximum of 6.2 million cubic feet of transuranic waste — discarded tools, soil and equipment contaminated by plutonium and other radioactive materials — in its underground salt-bed caverns. But its capacity has been measured so far by the total volume of the waste drums, not the materials held inside them.

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ELEA/Holtec storage ground view

State could block proposed nuclear storage site near Carlsbad

State could block nuclear storage site near Carlsbad even if federally licensed

State lawmakers maintained they will have a say in a proposed facility to store high-level nuclear waste near Carlsbad and Hobbs, despite an opinion issued by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas suggesting New Mexico will have a limited role in licensing the project.

New Mexico Sen. Jeff Steinborn (D-36), who chairs the New Mexico Radioactive and Hazardous Waste Committee said Balderas’ opinion was informative but did not preclude lawmakers from preventing the facility from operating.

The committee convened in May to study the project proposed by New Jersey-based Holtec International, and held its third meeting on Wednesday at University of New Mexico-Los Alamos.

Opposed to the project, Steinborn said state lawmakers owe their constituents a full review of the proposal.

“I think it’s kind of a troubling deficiency in the government if the state doesn’t have to give consent to have something like this foisted upon it,” he said. “The State of New Mexico owes it to the people to look at every aspect of it.”

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Click the image to view and download this large printable map of DOE sites, commercial reactors, nuclear waste dumps, nuclear transportation routes, surface waters near sites and transport routes, and underlying aquifers. This map was prepared by Deborah Reade for the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.

Nuclear Watch Interactive Map – U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex

Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy

The Wall St. Journal has compiled a searchable database of contaminated sites across the US. (view)
Related WSJ report: https://www.wsj.com

NUCLEAR POWER

Important Documents & Articles Related to Nuclear Energy Production

Most Recent

The Twisted Myth that Nuclear Weapons Make Us Safer

“Mutually Assured Destruction” has been the MO of the world’s nuclear powers for decades. If Russia points a giant nuclear warhead toward the U.S., we would gear up to point an even more massive missile their way, and then, in theory, Russia shrugs its shoulders and says, “Eh, not worth it.” They would be completely “deterred” from advancing a nuclear attack based on the reality that doing this would mean the entire country, continent, and ultimately, the entire world, would become obliterated as we know it; the cost and the risk greatly outweigh any benefit. According to this thesis, the existence of nuclear weapons makes the cost of war seem frighteningly high and thus “discourage[s] states from starting any wars that might lead to the use of such weapons” (Kenneth Waltz, “The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May Better,”) The idea that nuclear weapons make conventional war safer is a widely used as a framing for why we need nukes at all, with one specific reason being framing that nuclear weapons can still be the equalizer against superior conventional forces.

The official NATO website was updated as recently as a few days ago (May 17, 2022), and reads in its header, “NATO is committed to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, but as long as nuclear weapons exist, it will remain a nuclear alliance (emphasis my own).” What happens to the theories of “Deterrence” and “Mutually Assured Destruction” when we take a closer look? What is the possibility for NATO ever disbanding because a nuclear alliance is no longer needed? If all of the over 12,000 nuclear warheads in the world somehow magically disappear, would we be better off? Or would these theories prove correct, and would World War III start imminently with conventional weapons (or sticks and stones, as the saying goes)?

A recent (May 23, 2022) headline reads, “‘Destroy whole UK in two minutes!’ Russia MP threatens nuclear strike in on-air outburst” with a summary below, “A RUSSIAN MP has boasted during a TV interview that a nuclear strike could “destroy the whole UK in two minutes” amid mounting hostility between London and Moscow.”

This article certainly doesn’t seem to bode well for the theory that nuclear weapons make conventional war safer. On the contrary, Putin has been able to escalate war with Ukraine because of Russia’s massive nuclear arsenal, not despite it. Although the risk of this conflict actually going nuclear is low, the question is undeniably raised (again, for most, for the first time since the 19050s and ’60s) if future wars could escalate beyond the nuclear threshold.

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$61 million in refunds for customers in SC nuclear debacle

Four executives of the utility or the company that was building the reactors have been indicted or have pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the failure.

© AP News | bloomberglaw.com

FILE - Construction is well underway for two new nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville, S.C. on Monday, April 9, 2012. A South Carolina judge has approved a second round of refunds for customers of a utility that poured billions of dollars into two nuclear power plants that never produced a watt of power. About $61 million is being set aside for Dominion Energy South Carolina after the utility sold a number of properties as part of the settlement of a class-action lawsuit by 1.1 million of its customers over the never completed plants at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Columbia. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins, File)
AP FILE – Construction is well underway for two new nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville, S.C. on Monday, April 9, 2012. A South Carolina judge has approved a second round of refunds for customers of a utility that poured billions of dollars into two nuclear power plants that never produced a watt of power. About $61 million is being set aside for Dominion Energy South Carolina after the utility sold a number of properties as part of the settlement of a class-action lawsuit by 1.1 million of its customers over the never completed plants at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Columbia. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina judge has approved a second round of refunds for customers of a utility that poured billions of dollars into two nuclear power plants that never produced a watt of power.

About $61 million is being set aside for Dominion Energy South Carolina after the utility sold a number of properties as part of the settlement of a class-action lawsuit by 1.1 million of its customers over the never completed plants at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Columbia.

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The Bomb and Us: Why Gen Z Should Care About Nuclear Disarmament

“Some scholars, including Kenneth Waltz, have gone so far as arguing that we should allow nuclear weapons proliferation as a method of promoting peace. However, this deterrence-based approach does not take into account the possibility of accidental and unauthorized nuclear explosions, or of nuclear terrorism, two very real menaces.”

Anna Bartoux February 10, 2022 cpreview.com

An anti-nuclear weapons protest in front of the White House. Photo taken by Matthew S.

You cannot go around saying to people that there is a 100% chance that they’re gonna die. You know? It’s just nuts. —President Orlean, “Don’t Look Up,” 20:40

This line is from the new Netflix sensation, “Don’t Look Up,” a movie starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Jennifer Lawrence in the role of two astronomers trying to raise awareness about a comet on a collision course with Earth. “Don’t Look Up” has prompted the interest of many because of its not-so-hidden political commentary on the apathy surrounding climate change, however, few seem to realize the relevance of the movie’s message for another, even less recognized issue: nuclear disarmament.

Indeed, the extent to which nuclear weapons still threaten our lives today is little understood. Despite being one of the most socially engaged and politically minded generations across a range of topics, few Gen Zers really consider the nuclear issue with the urgency it demands.

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Protesters Denounce French Push to Label Nuclear as Sustainable Energy

“By taking the lead of the toxic alliance between fossil gas and nuclear (energy) at a European level, Emmanuel Macron clearly sides with the polluters’ camp. Nuclear is not a green energy: it produces radioactive waste that piles up across the country”

By | December 14, 2021 

Green activist attend a protest to denounce French push to include nuclear energy and fossil gas in the EU Green taxonomy, in front of the Quai d’Orsay in Paris, France, December 14, 2021. REUTERS/Benoit TessierREUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) – Demonstrators unfurled a banner declaring “Gas & nuclear are not green” outside France’s foreign ministry on Tuesday in protest at a government drive to label nuclear energy and fossil gas as sectors for climate-friendly investment.

One of the about 20 protesters, wearing a mask of President Emmanuel Macron, chained himself to a gas bottle and a nuclear barrel outside the ministry’s headquarters in Paris. Another held a banner that read “Macron shame on you.”

The European Union is preparing a rulebook on climate friendly investments, which from next year will define which activities can be labelled as green in sectors including transport and buildings.

The EU’s aim is to restrict the green investment label to climate-friendly activities, steer cash into low-carbon projects and stop companies or investors making unsubstantiated environmental claims.

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Pilgrim Nuclear Plant Will Not Release Contaminated Water In 2022

By CBSBoston.com Staff December 7, 2021 

PLYMOUTH (CBS) – The company managing the shutdown of the Pilgrim Nuclear Plant now says it will not release contaminated water into Cape Cod Bay in 2022 as planned.

Holtec International planned to discharge the water sometime early next year.

But in a statement on Monday, they promised to store the water on site through 2022 and search for other options to get rid of it.

“We appreciate and understand the public’s questions and concerns and remain committed to an open, transparent process on the decommissioning of Pilgrim Station focused on the health and safety of the public, the environment, and on-site personnel,” Holtec said in a statement.

Pilgrim went offline in 2019.

Nuclear power is never safe or economical

“I hope Sen. Durbin changes his mind about promoting nuclear energy. The real carbon-free sources of electricity are wind and solar.”

Chicago Sun Times

Renewables Catching Nuclear Power In Global Energy Race
The only real sources of clean, renewable energy are wind and solar, not nuclear, a reader writes.

I cannot disagree more with the assertion by Sen. Dick Durbin in a recent Sun-Times op-ed that nuclear power is a necessary and viable way to combat climate change.

Electricity production by nuclear power is not, and can never be made, safe and economical.

When nuclear power plants were first touted in the 1950s as a new and safe method for producing electricity, it was said the electricity would be “too cheap to meter.” This is pure nonsense! If it was so safe, why weren’t any power plants built and put on line until passage of the Price-Anderson Act? The law has been amended a number of times and greatly limits the liability of operators of nuclear power plants.

Anything paid out beyond the limits set in Price-Anderson would take years of lawsuits.

Sen. Durbin wrote “It is past time for Congress to step up and develop a comprehensive, consent-based plan to store nuclear waste.” That’s an understatement. Nuclear waste is stored within a half-mile of Lake Michigan at the now-closed Zion nuclear power plant. Why is it close to the source of our drinking water? Because there is nowhere to ship it! Plans to ship such waste to a depository in Yucca Mountain in the southwest fell through when some improperly stored barrels burst into flames, releasing large amounts of high-level radioactive material.

Who does the senator think will agree to a “consent-based plan” when there is no known method of safely storing these dangerous materials for thousands of years, the time it takes for radioactive decay to make it safe for the environment?

Sen. Durbin argued that “we must ensure the nuclear fleet remains safe and economical,” but nuclear power has never been economical. As far as I know, the last time a permit was approved for a new nuclear plant was during the Obama administration. That plant in Georgia is only about half complete, although it was to be finished by now and the cost is already double the initial estimate.

The current “fleet,” as Sen. Durbin called them, of nuclear power plants were designed and engineered to last about 30 to 40 years. Most of our country’s plants are near that age. Their internal systems are constantly bombarded by radioactive particles, making the metal in the systems more brittle and prone to failure every year. Subsidizing them is a waste of taxpayer money and a dangerous gamble with our lives.

I hope Sen. Durbin changes his mind. The real carbon-free sources of electricity are renewables: wind and solar.

George Milkowski, West Ridge

Pilgrim nuclear plant may release 1M gallons of radioactive water into bay. What we know

“Diane Turco, of Harwich, the director of Cape Downwinders, a citizen group that was at the forefront of the effort to close Pilgrim, called any option that included sending radioactive water into the bay “outrageous” and “criminal.” Turco said she has no confidence in the decommissioning process.

“The process has been to allow radioactivity into the environment,” she said. “The answer should be no you can’t do that.””

Doug Fraser Cape Cod Times

PLYMOUTH — One of the options being considered by the company that is decommissioning the closed Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is to release around one million gallons of potentially radioactive water into Cape Cod Bay.

The option had been discussed briefly with state regulatory officials as one possible way to get rid of water from the spent fuel pool, the reactor vessel and other components of the facility, Holtec International spokesman Patrick O’Brien said in an interview Wednesday. It was highlighted in a report by state Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Regional Director Seth Pickering at Monday’s meeting of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel in Plymouth. 

Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, which was permanently closed in 2019 and is undergoing decommissioning.
Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, which was permanently closed in 2019 and is undergoing decommissioning.

“We had broached that with the state, but we’ve made no decision on that,” O’Brien said.

As of mid-December, Holtec will complete the process of moving all the spent fuel rods into casks that are being stored on a concrete pad on the Pilgrim plant site in Plymouth. After that, O’Brien told the panel, the removal and disposal of other components in those areas of the facility will take place and be completed sometime in February.

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U.S. ‘very bullish’ on new nuclear technology, Granholm says

“These advanced nuclear reactors, and the existing fleet, are safe,” Granholm says. “We have the gold standard of regulation in the United States.”

Actually…According to a UCS report, if federal regulators require the necessary safety demonstrations, it could take at least 20 years—and billions of dollars in additional costs—to commercialize such reactors, their associated fuel-cycle facilities, and other related infrastructure.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) may have to adapt some regulations when licensing reactor technologies that differ significantly in design from the current fleet. Lyman says that should not mean weakening public health and safety standards, finding no justification for the claim that “advanced” reactors will be so much safer and more secure that the NRC can exempt them from fundamental safeguards. On the contrary, because there are so many open questions about these reactors, he says they may need to meet even more stringent requirements.

By Yahoo News news.yahoo.com

GLASGOW, Scotland — In an interview at the U.N. Climate Change Conference, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm told Yahoo News on Friday that the Biden administration is “very bullish” on building new nuclear reactors in the United States.

“We are very bullish on these advanced nuclear reactors,” she said. “We have, in fact, invested a lot of money in the research and development of those. We are very supportive of that.”

Nuclear energy is controversial among environmental activists and experts because while it does not create the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, it has the potential to trigger dangerous nuclear meltdowns and creates radioactive nuclear waste [not a small issue].

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Al Jazeera Infographic: The World Nuclear Club

While 32 countries generate atomic energy, nine have nuclear weapons and seven countries have both.

aljazeera.com

Nuclear warheads per country

Nine countries possessed roughly 13,150 warheads as of August 2021, according to the Federation of American Scientists. More than 90 percent are owned by Russia and the US.

At the peak in 1986, the two rivals had nearly 65,000 nuclear warheads between them, making the nuclear arms race one of the most threatening events of the Cold War. While Russia and the US have dismantled thousands of warheads, several countries are thought to be increasing their stockpiles, most notably China.

According to the Pentagon’s 2021 annual report (pdf), China’s nuclear warhead stockpile is expected to more than triple and reach at least 1,000 by 2030.

The only country to voluntarily relinquish nuclear weapons is South Africa. In 1989, the government halted its nuclear weapons programme and in 1990 began dismantling its six nuclear weapons. Two years later, South Africa joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a non-nuclear country.

With the 26th UN Climate Change Conference over, nations are making plans to move to green energy in a bid to tackle global warming.

But nuclear energy is a particular sticking point. While it is the largest source of low-carbon electricity in OECD countries, some nations have spoken out against the categorisation of nuclear energy as climate-friendly.

Across the globe, 34 countries harness the power of splitting atoms for generating electricity or for nuclear weapons. (Al Jazeera)

Global nuclear energy

Nuclear energy provides roughly 10 percent of the world’s electricity. Of the 32 countries with nuclear power reactors, more than half (18) are in Europe. France has the world’s highest proportion of its electricity – at 71 percent – coming from atomic power.

Up until 2011, Japan was generating some 30 percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors; however, following the Fukushima disaster, all nuclear power plants were suspended for safety inspections. As of 2020, just 5 percent of Japan’s electricity came from nuclear power, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Nuclear power constitutes some 20 percent of the United States’ electricity. About 60 percent of the country’s energy comes from fossil fuels, including coal, natural gas and petroleum, with the remaining 20 percent coming from renewable sources – wind, hydro and solar.

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Nuclear Power Is COP26’s Quiet Controversy

“We have to get everything done in the next 25 years…The idea that you’re going to scale up a technology you don’t even have yet, and it’s going to be commercially viable [in that time], just seems to me like la la land.” — Tom Burke, co-founder of climate think tank E3G.

BY ALEJANDRO DE LA GARZA time.com

In the midst of the COP26 climate talks yesterday, U.S. and Romanian officials stepped aside for a session in the conference’s Blue Zone, establishing an agreement for U.S. company NuScale to build a new kind of modular nuclear power plant in the southeastern European country. The company’s plants—designed to be quickly scaled up or down based on need—are intended to be quicker and cheaper to build than the traditional kind, with some considering them to be a promising alternative for countries seeking to wean themselves off fossil fuels.

NuScale CEO John Hopkins sees the agreement as part of a broader recognition that nuclear power has a big role to play as the world decarbonizes. “I’ve seen a significant shift here,” Hopkins said, speaking to TIME from Glasgow yesterday. “It used to be the only thing really discussed was renewables, but I think people are starting to be a little more pragmatic and understand that nuclear needs to be in the mix.”

But others at COP26 aren’t convinced that NuScale’s small reactors can help avoid climate catastrophe. Some point to the fact that NuScale has yet to build a single commercial plant as evidence that the company is already too late to the party.

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Nuclear Watch Interactive Map – U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex

Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy

The Wall St. Journal has compiled a searchable database of contaminated sites across the US. (view)
Related WSJ report: https://www.wsj.com

LANL’s Central Mission: Los Alamos Lab officials have recently claimed that LANL has moved away from primarily nuclear weapons to “national security”, but what truly remains as the Labs central mission? Here’s the answer from one of its own documents:

LANL’s “Central Mission”- Presented at: RPI Nuclear Data 2011 Symposium for Criticality Safety and Reactor Applications (PDF) 4/27/11

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