Full-size replica of a high-level nuclear waste truck cask (20 feet long, 8 feet tall) on a trailer with banners.
Holland, MI Like a Paul Revere Ride of the Atomic Age, Nuclear Information & Resource Service (NIRS) will haul a mock nuclear waste container across West Michigan and around Lake Michigan to warn citizens about nuclear utility companies’ plans to continue making more high-level radioactive waste, and their environmentally racist scheme to dump the deadly atomic garbage on earthquake-plagued Native American lands out West.
The “Mobile Chernobyl” tour is scheduled to visit the Holland area more than once over the course of the next few weeks, with its first stop at the United Church of Christ in Douglas on Sunday, April 1st. The tour is also tentatively scheduled to visit Hope College in the near future, with the date, time and location to be announced.
The tour will culminate on Thursday, April 26th. That date marks the 15th anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe, a nuclear reactor explosion and fire that has radioactively contaminated a region of the former Soviet Union larger than Michigan. As part of a national “No Nuke Dumps on Native Lands!” action day, a rally and non-violent civil disobedience action are planned at the Cook nuclear reactors on the Lake Michigan shoreline south of St. Joseph. The April 26th protest targets American Electric Power’s (AEP) twin reactors due to the company’s efforts to “temporarily store” its high-level radioactive wastes on the tiny, impoverished Skull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation in Utah.
Western Shoshone Indian land at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, is similarly targeted for the permanent federal dump site for all the high-level atomic waste in the U.S., including that stored at the Palisades nuclear reactor near South Haven.
“Consumers Energy has led nuclear utility lobbying efforts to dump its deadly atomic trash at Yucca Mountain,” said Kevin Kamps, a lifelong Kalamazoo resident until moving to Washington, D.C. to work as nuclear waste specialist at NIRS in 1999. Kamps is conducting the “Mobile Chernobyl” tour. “Shamefully, that makes West Michigan’s utilities national leaders in the scheme to dump deadly radioactive waste on Native lands out West. Michiganders of good heart must act to stop this blatant environmental racism in its tracks!”
“High-level radioactive waste is dangerous no matter !QW! it is,” said Alice Hirt of Holland, a board member of the statewide nuclear power watchdog group Don’t Waste Michigan. “Whether crammed into storage pools at the reactors, sitting on the beach at Palisades 150 yards from Lake Michigan in defective storage silos, or traveling our roads and rails, nuclear waste is an accident just waiting to happen. The best solution to the nuclear waste problem is to stop making it in the first place.”
Both Consumers Energy and AEP, however, plan to extend the operations at their reactors for years or even decades beyond their original 40 year licenses, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission appears certain to approve these extensions.
“Not only will license extensions worsen the already unsolvable problem of forever deadly nuclear waste, but they will increase the risks of a catastrophic radiation accident at these old, deteriorating reactors,” said Hirt.
“Given that Palisades has the most embrittled reactor vessel in the U.S., and that Cook’s reactors continue to experience glitches after a three year shutdown for major safety violations, West Michigan is gambling with its very own Chernobyl catastrophe,” said Kamps.
NIRS and Don’t Waste Michigan point to energy efficiency and renewable sources of electricity such as wind, solar, hydrogen fuel cells, and biomass power as safer, cleaner, and even less expensive alternatives to dangerous, radioactive waste-emitting nuclear reactors and greenhouse-gas emitting fossil fuels.