THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT plans on transporting the most deadly material on the planet through our cities and towns, to be stored at the surface in West Texas and southeast New Mexico. This deadly material is spent nuclear fuel, or high-level nuclear waste.
TWO APPLICATIONS are currently under technical review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The applications seek licenses to store high-level nuclear waste until the government comes up with a permanent solution. The applicants are private companies, and private entities cannot just assume the federal government’s responsibilities, and the method by which they intend to carry this process out fails on both legal and technical grounds.
The Legal Challenges: (1) according to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) cannot issue a license for interim storage of high-level nuclear waste unless a permanent repository is permitted. Otherwise, any temporary site could likely become a de facto permanent site; and (2) the NWPA requires that a host state consent and be financially compensated if they provide consent. Here, neither of the two legal requirements have been met. The NRC does NOT have a permanent repository and it does NOT have the consent necessary to license an interim site.
The Biden administration should restart an inclusive process to design a consent-based siting approach for spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste disposal. Fast action is needed because private corporations are offering to “solve” the problem—temporarily in the case of interim storage proposals in Texas and New Mexico and permanently in the case of companies proposing the use of innovative, but unproven, technologies. Legislative proposals have also emphasized quick and piecemeal solutions (e.g., S.1234, HR.2699) that reduce consent to agreement by elected state and host community officials.
Together, these efforts are likely to exacerbate challenges to developing a socially acceptable, cohesive, and effective strategy for managing spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. They undermine conditions necessary for consent in a holistic systems-oriented solution.
Almost a decade has passed since the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future recommended a new management approach for the country’s growing inventory of commercial spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. The commission reported that the United States’ failure to develop a safe and timely program for managing these wastes resulted from a top-down approach that never achieved technical consensus or social acceptance. To forge a more successful path, the commission called for a consent-based approach in which communities with adequate knowledge of risks, benefits, and technical requirements could volunteer to host one or more geological repositories and interim storage facilities. The Energy Department made some preliminary progress on defining what such a process might look like during the Obama administration, but that initiative was soon squelched by the Trump administration.Read More
Five years since his death and 100 since his birth, legendary priest, author, poet and activist Daniel Berrigan continues to offer wisdom and insight on living a life of creative nonviolence. Join Rev. John Dear in marking mark Dan’s 100th birthday in free, three hour Zoom session via the Beatitudes Center on May 8, at 2 p.m. EST.
“One cannot level one’s moral lance at every evil in the universe. There are just too many of them. But you can do something and the difference between doing something and doing nothing is everything.”Daniel Berrigan
As demanded by organizations and individuals, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) has scheduled a public hearing on adding a New Utility Shaft to the WIPP permit. The hearing will start at noon on Monday, May 17, 2021. Hundreds of people commented on the proposed new shaft in 2019 and 2020, 97 percent of whom objected to WIPP expansion and the new shaft.
Dallas Morning News / April 7, 2021
With weather-related failures in natural gas, nuclear, coal, wind and solar generation as temperatures reached record lows, the state’s power generating capacity dropped by almost 70%, creating a catastrophic energy shortage. This is where geothermal energy could have saved the day.
Michelle Lewis / Apr. 7th 2021
EGEB: Texas wind power smashes records in March: In March, Texas grid operator ERCOT’s wind power generation smashed its previous record. Wind topped 10.4 million megawatt-hours (MWh) during the month, which is 2 million MWh above its previous high set in December 2020, according to data from the Energy Information Administration’s hourly electric grid monitor.Read More
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico sued the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Monday over concerns that the federal agency hasn’t done enough to vet plans for a multibillion-dollar facility to store spent nuclear fuel in the state, arguing that the project would endanger residents, the environment and the economy.Read More
Midland Reporter-Telegram, March 5, 2021
The Permian Basin Coalition released a statement Thursday saying that Rep. Brooks Landgraf’s bill to ban the storage of high-level nuclear waste in Texas “does not go far enough” in seeking to keep nuclear waste out of the state.
Landgraf’s bill would ban the storage and disposal of high-level nuclear waste away from civilian nuclear power plants or university research reactors in Texas. A proposal from Waste Control Specialists to expand their existing nuclear waste site in Andrews County to store high-level waste would be impacted by the bill.Read More
Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said in a statement that “What New Mexicans really deserve (is) to have needed cleanup drive funding instead of the budget that DOE wants driving cleanup. We strongly salute the Environment Department for taking legal action against DOE’s scheme of expanding dirty nuclear weapons production over cleanup.”
SANTA FE – The state Environment Department has lost patience with the U.S. Department of Energy over what it says is a “continuing pattern of delay and noncompliance” with the cleanup of hazardous legacy waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory, posing a health risk to people in surrounding communities.
After a dispute resolution process broke down, the New Mexico Environment Department late Wednesday filed a civil lawsuit against the DOE in 1st Judicial District Court in Santa Fe. It claims that DOE has failed to meet objectives identified in compliance orders in 2005 and 2016 and has dragged its feet in cleaning up contamination left behind from decades of bomb-making and nuclear research.
It asks that a court-supervised process be conducted to resolve the issues.
“We’re a state agency, and our patience is long,” Environment Secretary James Kenney said in a phone interview. “But our patience runs out quickly when there’s an inability to meet promises.”
DOE maintains that significant progress has been made since 2016, including addressing hexavalent chromium contamination in groundwater and the cleanup at several sites with elevated levels of soil contamination. It maintains that it completed all 16 compliance order milestones for fiscal year 2020.Read More
A hazardous waste disposal company in Andrews County wants to handle more dangerous levels of nuclear waste. Federal agencies are pondering new rules that could allow more of it to come to Texas.
BY ERIN DOUGLAS | The Texas Tribune FEB. 10, 2021
To get rid of eight gallons of water, the U.S. Department of Energy spent $100,000.
It’s little more than half a tank of gasoline in a midsize car, but the radioactive shipment from South Carolina to a West Texas company last fall marked one change that could lead to more nuclear waste traveling to Texas — waste that, until recently, was considered too dangerous to be disposed of.
Much of the public debate surrounding Waste Control Specialists’ hazardous waste facility in Andrews County, on the New Mexico border, has focused on the company’s plans, with a partner, to store the riskiest type of nuclear waste: the spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants, which can remain dangerously radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years.Read More
CINCINNATI (WKRC) – Each year, millions of radioactive loads are shipped across the country, many on trucks that travel right beside you on our highways.
The federal government says the shipments are safe, but some of those who handle and haul the toxic material disagree.
In this exclusive Local 12 Investigation, Chief Investigative Reporter Duane Pohlman interviews two of those workers.Read More
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Thank you for publishing the Bloomberg News story “Iran: US must move first on nuclear deal” in Monday’s Extra Extra eEdition section. While it was critically important that President Joe Biden moved to extend by five years the nuclear treaty with Russia, it is equally important that he move quickly during this very narrow window of opportunity to work with the existing relatively moderate Iranian government before radical Iranians take over this summer.
Unfortunately, Biden’s hard-line statements in his CBS interview before the Super Bowl made him sound more like Donald Trump than the president he could be. Trump initiated economic sanctions against the people of Iran that included bans on urgently needed medical supplies to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Iran and Europe have acted in good faith in this years-long process, but the U.S. has not.