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Waste Confidence



In the summer of 2012, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission instituted a moratorium on issuances of licenses for new reactors, and renewals for existing licenses. A federal court threw out the underpinning of the agency's radioactive waste policy--its "waste confidence" rule. That rule had stated that the NRC was confident that high-level radioactive waste always would be stored or disposed safely, and thus could continue to be generated.

But the court found that with the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site effectively cancelled and no alternative in place, the NRC could not be "confident" of permanent disposal. Moreover, the court ruled that the NRC had no technical basis for asserting that current on-site storage practices in fuel pools and dry casks would be safe for the indefinite future. This ruling forced the current moratorium on licensing.dcwasteconmttg111413

In September 2014, the NRC approved a new policy to replace its "waste confidence" rule, which does little to address the underlying concerns about long-term management of high-level radioactive waste. The rule essentially relies on an assertion that storage of the waste in dry casks will be safe into the indeterminate future--even eternally; even though the agency acknowledges that a more permanent solution must be found.

On October 29, 2014, nine clean energy organizations, including NIRS, filed a challenge in federal court to the NRC's new radioactive waste policy intended to supplant its previous "waste confidence policy struck down by the court. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) today filed a separate challenge. The states of New York, Connecticut and Vermont, and the Prairie Island Indian Community also have filed challenges in federal court this week.

Press release explaining the petition

Text of Petition for Review

Disclosures of Organizations


On September 29, 2014, clean energy organizations filed new contentions in all remaining reactor licensing cases challenging the new policy, as well as a petition in all cases calling for a suspension of final issuance of licenses.

The generic contention is here.

The petition is here.

A press release announcing the filings is here.

Motion to re-open hearings for reactors where hearings had concluded (includes declarations from Drs. Arjun Makhijani and Mark Cooper). These include Levy County, FL; South Texas; North Anna and Callaway reactor projects, although only North Anna appears to be moving ahead.

November 7, 2014. Consolidated reply from all petitioners to industry/NRC staff reponses to September 29 petitions.


In the Fall of 2013, the agency held 12 public meetings around the country to explain and receive comment on this document.

These meetings were one opportunity to point out the technical shortcomings in this new document, and to call for making the licensing moratorium permanent.

All of the 12 public comment meetings on radioactive waste and its court-ordered Generic Environmental Impact Statement have now been held--and we all did a great job turning people out to those meetings. Even where attendance was small, voices opposing NRC's flawed waste plans out-numbered the boosters; some meetings had 150--200 people, clearly record-breaking attendance for NRC of late. WE DID GOOD WORK.

Friday, December 20, 2013 was the last day to submit written comments to the NRC on this issue. We have been told that some 30,000 comments have been received by the agency, but do not know that for a fact. We know that more than 9500 comments were sent to the NRC through NIRS' action page.

On December 20, a number of national and grassroots organizations, including NIRS, submitted extensive and technical comments to the NRC prepared by a group of attorneys and experts. Thank you to all who helped prepare these brillant comments!

The comments themselves are here. (will be posted as soon as completed).

Accompanying Exhibits:

Exhibit B. Declaration of David Lochbaum on fuel pool leaks.

Exhibit C. Declaration of Gordon Thompson on fuel pool fire risks

Exhibit D. Declaration of Mark Cooper on costs of storing irradiated fuel


Here are comments from the Sierra Club Nuclear Free Campaign.


Here is a list of all locations and schedules of meetings

Click on the meeting location below to download sample press releases, Alerts, and more for each meeting for use by grassroots groups. Note: these are in Word format so you can edit, add your group's information and customize how you wish. All meetings begin with an open house at 6 pm local time, followed by the meeting from 7-10 pm local time.

Rockville, MD. Oct. 1 and Nov. 14

U.S. NRC Headquarters
Commission Hearing Room
11555 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD  20852

Denver, CO. Oct. 3

San Luis Obispo, CA, Oct. 7 NEW DATE: Wednesday November 20


Protestors pack the San Luis Obispo waste confidence meeting, November 20, 2013

Courtyard by Marriott San Luis Obispo
1605 Calle Joaquin Road
San Luis Obispo, CA  93405

Carlsbad, CA, Oct. 9 NEW DATE: Monday, November 18

Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa
5480 Grand Pacific Drive
Carlsbad, CA 92008

Perrysburg, OH, Oct. 15 NEW DATE: December 2

Hilton Garden Inn Toledo/Perrysburg
6165 Levis Commons Blvd.,
Perrysburg, OH 43551

Minnetonka, MN, Oct. 17 NEW DATE: December 4

Minneapolis Marriott Southwest
5801 Opus Parkway
Minnetonka, MN 55343

Oak Brook, IL, Oct. 24 NEW DATE: Tuesday, November 12

Chicago Marriott Oak Brook
1401 West 22nd Street
Oak Brook, IL 60523

Chelmsford, MA, Oct. 28:

Radisson Hotel & Suites Chelmsford-Lowell
10 Independence Drive
Chelmsford, MA  01824

Tarrytown, NY, Oct. 30

Westchester Marriott
670 White Plains Road
Tarrytown, NY 10591

Charlotte, NC, Nov. 4

Hilton Charlotte University Place
8629 J.M. Keynes Drive
Charlotte, NC  28262

Orlando, FL, Nov. 6

Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport
9300 Jeff Fuqua Boulevard
Orlando, FL 32827

September 13, 2013 Federal Register notice announcing meetings and written public comment period. Due date for written comments has been extended to December 20, 2013. In addition, the NRC has set up a teleconference for December 9, 2013 to accept oral comments from the public. See above.

Logos you can download and save to add to your materials:

Nuclear Waste: Stop Making It (circular logo above). (jpg)

Don't Waste America (at bottom of this page) (jpg)

Talking points for activists and commenters:

Waste Confidence Policy.

Dry casks vs fuel pools.

Waste confidence and climate.

Risks of fire in fuel pools.

Powerpoint prepared by Mothers for Peace on the need to close California's Diablo Canyon reactors. While specific to Diablo Canyon, you can use this as a template and adapt for presentations for any operating reactor. Same presentation in pdf format.

Fact sheet on high-burnup fuel, used in most U.S. reactors, prepared by Coalition to Decommission San Onofre.

NY Attorney General Schneiderman says state has no confidence in NRC waste "confidence" document. Article includes link to full statement.

Op-ed in Pottstown (PA) Mercury from Dr. Lewis Cuthbert of ACE: Shedding Light on NRC's Nuke Waste Con Game. Why not write an op-ed like this to your local paper?

The NRC has now released transcripts of two of the public meetings:


Here is a Facebook page some people are using to organize for the meetings.

You can pre-register with the NRC to speak at one of the meetings here. Note: pre-registration is not required, but may be useful to assure you have a speaking slot in case the meetings are as packed as we expect them to be.

September 13, 2013 Federal Register notice announcing meetings and written public comment period. Due date for written comments has been extended to December 20, 2013. In addition, the NRC has set up a teleconference for December 9, 2013 to accept oral comments from the public. More info as soon as it becomes available.

Download the full Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement here. (pdf)

Here is the June 8, 2012 federal court ruling that voided the NRC's "waste confidence" rule and forced the agency to institute a moratorium on reactor licensing and relicensing until it established a technical basis for its belief that high-level radioactive waste will always be safely stored.

Inventory and Description of Commercial Reactor Fuels within the United States (also known as radioactive waste), US Department of Energy 2011.