In the US “low-level” radioactive waste includes all the commercial nuclear waste except irradiated fuel from nuclear reactors, the liquid and sludge from reprocessing and the solid into which that is converted. In most of Europe this same range of waste is considered “low” and “intermediate” level. Regardless, it includes the same long-lasting, deadly radionuclides as in high level radioactive waste and sometimes in even greater concentrations.
Despite no place or technology to isolate the waste as long as it is radioactively hazardous, the nuclear industry creates more and more.
"Low-Level" Radioactive Waste Issues
Waste Disposal | Transport | Decommissioning | Reference Documents | International
March 2011: Presentation on Nuclear Waste in Tennessee to the TN Senate Environment Committee by the Citizens to End Nuclear Dumping in Tennessee (ENDIT) and Tennessee Environmental Council.
November 28, 2010: Texas At Risk of Becoming the Nation’s Radioactive Waste Dumping Ground; Rules Being Rushed Through During Holiday Season.
April 13, 2010: The Texas Vermont “low-level” radioactive waste disposal compact commission is considering opening up to out-of-compact waste –commercial so-called “low-level” radioactive waste from other than TX and VT. Comments against the proposed rule were submitted by a coalition of concerned organizations.
November 16, 2009: Presentation on nuclear waste processing and landfill disposal in TN to Tennessee State House of Representatives 2009 summer study committee, on behalf of Tennessee Conservation Voters, Tennessee Environmental Council and Citizens to End Nuclear Dumping in Tennessee and Nuclear Information and Resource Service.
June 19, 2009: 10 groups urge NRC to deny permit for import of Italian radioactive waste to U.S., following court decision.
April 2009: "Low-Level" Radioactive Waste Disposal Sites in the U.S. NIRS factsheet.
April 2009: “Low-level” is NOT low risk. Updated NIRS Factsheet
April 17, 2009: Diane D'Arrigo, NIRS Radioactive Waste Project Director, presents on so-called "low-level" waste at NRC meeting. View PowerPoint presentation.
March 18, 2009: Despite overwhelming scientific evidence, NRC declares depleted uranium to be Class A "low-level" radioactive waste:
Press release from Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.
Dissenting comments from NRC Commissioner Greg Jaczko.
Investigation of radioactive waste dispersal practices begins in Tennessee and moves across the country.
The release of NIRS' report Out of Control - On Purpose: DOE’s Dispersal of Radioactive Waste into Landfills and Consumer Products, caused a flurry of media coverage, especially in Tennessee, one of the key locations examined in the report. Demetria Kalodimos of WSMV-TV in Nashville has run several investigative reports on the issue, and received an award for women in radio and TV for the coverage. Watch the videos here. *image courtesy of WSMV-TV
May 15, 2008: Should the U.S. be a dump for foreign nuclear waste? Factsheet from HEAL Utah on EnergySolutions’ proposed import of 20,000 tons of radioactive waste from Italy.
May 2008: Activists in Utah held a rally at a local Italian restaurant to bring attention to EnergySolutions’ application to import 20,000 tons of radioactive waste from Italy to the U.S, which appears to be most of Italy’s “low” and intermediate level radioactive waste. The waste would come in through the ports of Charleston, SC and New Orleans, LA, be shipped to Tennessee for incineration, other "processing" and “recycling.” Some would be dumped in regular trash in Tennessee and some sent to Utah to be buried.
March 2, 2008: Oppose License Applications to Import Massive Amounts of Nuclear Power Waste from Europe to Burn, Melt, Transport and Dump in the US! NIRS Alert.
February 2008: A major US nuclear waste company, EnergySolutions, with a near monopoly on commercial nuclear waste treatment and disposal in the US, proposes large scale importation nuclear waste from Italy for processing and disposal in the US. This import license application is open for public comment until March 12, 2008. On February 28, 2008. over 50 national, state and local groups and individuals requested an extension of 90 days for public comment and requests to intervene and hold hearings. Submitted comments and the docket can be viewed on the NRC website www.nrc.gov and searching in the electronic library ADAMS under the docket # 11005711.
Congressmembers (Rep. Gordon and Rep.Matheson ), state legislators , a governor and newspapers have expressed concern and opposition.
April 2007: NIRS salutes the determined activists of South Carolina who have been
waging a campaign to close the Barnwell "low-level" nuclear
waste dump. A first step was accomplished in April when the South Carolina
House committee on Agriculture and Environmental Affairs voted unanimously
(with only 2 abstentions, including the bill sponsor) against a bill that
would have allowed the dump to remain open to waste from all 50 states
beyond the 2008 deadline that will close the site to all waste that does
not originate in the interstate compact of South Carolina, New Jersey
and Connecticut. Hats off! This is a significant barrel in the path of
new nuclear power development! More info: www.dontwastesc.com. Article on
Barnwell victory from Nuclear Monitor here.
January 5, 1996: Stop the Ward Valley Nuclear Dump. NIRS Alert.
January 2007: Independent
investigative journalist Mike Hopping's article "For Lack of a Database"
on the North Carolina uranium truck roll-over on an I-40 entrance ramp.
June 2002: Great Lakes United Resolution on the Transport
of the Intermediate-Level Radioactive Waste in Canada.
June 06, 2004: Resolution by Great Lakes United calling for complete cleanup of West Valley radioactive waste and opposing the DOE’s threat to declassify high level reprocessing waste to “low-level (Waste Incidental to Reprocessing, WIR). For more on the declassification battle see http://ananuclear.org/HLWpage.html
November 5, 2002: NRC/EPA Decomissioning Agreement Falls Short of True Public Protection: Will Leave Radioactive Sites with Contaminated Water and Soil
The Manifest Information Management System (MIMS), run by the U.S. Department of Energy, contains current data on the amounts, types, volume, activity, and generators of “low-level” radioactive waste at the Beatty, NV; Clive, UT; Barnwell, SC; and Richmond, WA, commercial “low-level” waste disposal sites.
1990 DOE inventory of commercial and federal “low-level” and mixed radioactive waste.
What is “low-level” radioactive waste and how dangerous is it? Check out pages 49 to 52 of this GAO Report for the answers to these questions—Note that some so-called “low-level” radioactive waste can give a lethal dose in just 20 minutes if exposed unshielded, that “low-level” waste includes all the same radioactive elements as high-level radioactive waste such as plutonium, cesium, strontium and hundreds of others.
The Department of Energy did annual State-by-State Assessments of radioactive waste received at operating nuclear waste sites. These show the amount of radioactivity and volume that went to operating dumps that year and the category of generator. The vast majority both radioactivity and volume of “low-level” radioactive waste is from nuclear power, as indicated in these reports. Click on the year to see reports: 1995 , 1996 , 1997 .
2005: South Korea is looking for a community to take the nuclear power waste
from its 20 nuclear power plants. Here is some background
information on the 2005 effort and a letter
of support for the environmental groups and local residents from NIRS.