1. Urge your elected officials to stop H.R. 5427 — the U.S. Senate version of the Fiscal Year 2007 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill — dead in its tracks!
U.S. Senator Pete Domenici wants to give the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) the authority to open one or more “interim” storage sites for high-level radioactive waste in the 31 states with operating reactors and the 3 states with shut down reactors. DOE’s authority could arbitrarily override the wishes of state officials. The opening of such dumps would not improve the safety or security of the waste, and would initiate unprecedented numbers of waste shipments on the roads, rails, and waterways that would be vulnerable to accidents or attacks. This dangerous scheme must be stopped.
Domenici’s bill could be taken up during the Congressional lame-duck session scheduled for after this Fall’s elections. Thus, newly-elected Congressmembers won’t have the opportunity to vote on it. While you should also contact candidates and try to inject this issue into the campaigns, it’s important to contact your current elected officials as well.
Contact information for elected officials:
Find your State Governor’s contact information at:http://www.nga.org/portal/site/nga/menuitem.dc47d9cab98a90f68a278110501010a0/?vgnextoid=1af5c274eee62010VgnVCM1000001a01010aRCRD
Find your State Attorney General’s contact information at: http://www.naag.org/ag/full_ag_table.php
Contact your U.S. Senators and Representative via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121, or find additional contact information at http://www.house.gov/
Urge them to contact Sen. Domenici, the sponsor of this bill. The Governors of CT, ME, NH, and VT, as well as the Northeast Coalition of Governors, already have. So have: 10 State Attorneys General (CA, CT, IL, ME, MN, NH, NJ, NY, VT, WI), IL’s U.S. Senators; the National Conference of State Legislatures; the National Association of Counties; the National League of Cities; and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
If your elected official has already expressed their opposition to Sen. Domenici, thank them! If not, urge them to do all they can to oppose H.R. 5427 and its undermining of states’ authority to protect the health, safety, and environment of their citizens against the risks of high-level radioactive waste. Urge them to act quickly, as final decisions on this bill will likely be made, behind closed doors, as early as mid November.
[To send a message via the internet to your elected officials on this issue, also see Public Citizen’s web-form at:http://action.citizen.org/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=5324]
2. As an alternative to this dangerous proposal, consider adding your group to the national coalition calling for safety and security upgrades for radioactive waste stored on-site at nuclear power plants.
See the “Principles for Safeguarding Nuclear Waste at Reactors” athttp://www.citizen.org/documents/PrinciplesSafeguardingIrradiatedFuel.pdf and send your name, title, group name, and full contact information to email@example.com in order to sign onto the letter. Note that over 100 diverse national (including NIRS), regional, and local grassroots groups have already signed onto these Principles.
U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (Republican, New Mexico), powerful chairman of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, as well as chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee for Energy and Water Development, has proposed creating “consolidation and preparation” (CAP) facilities — centralized “interim” storage sites — for commercial high-level radioactive waste in every state with nuclear reactors.
Despite the agency’s abysmal radioactive waste management record, Sen. Domenici would grant the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) final say over the location of such “interim” storage sites — thus the ability to override Governors, State Legislatures, State Attorneys General, as well as county and local governments. And if a state refuses to name one or more CAP facilities, Sen. Domenici’s bill would allow DOE to build a regional “parking lot” dump for high-level radioactive wastes from multiple states in that “un-cooperative” state.
The opening of CAP facilities would happen in a frighteningly short three and a half year long “streamlined” period. The license would be for 25 years of “interim” storage (if 25 years can be called “temporary”!), although waste could — and almost certainly would — remain at CAP facilities for significantly longer than that. DOE has admitted its proposed national repository for high-level waste — targeted at Yucca Mountain, Nevada — won’t open for another 11 years, till 2017, at the earliest. Sen. Domenici himself has admitted it would take an additional 30 years, or more, to transport wastes to Yucca.
Even after those 41+ years, Yucca would not be able to accommodate all the waste generated by that point in the U.S., meaning that the excess waste would remain stuck back at the reactor sites. In fact, any waste generated after 2010 — just three years from now — will be excess to Yucca’s legal capacity limit.
This half-baked scheme could very well result in helter-skelter “Mobile Chernobyl” waste shipments through numerous states, for no good reason whatsoever. High-level radioactive waste could be rushed onto the roads, rails, and waterways across America, bound for hastily built “overflow parking lot dumps” from which it would have to be moved again someday, doubling transport risks. Transporting radioactive waste is the stage in the nuclear fuel chain that is most vulnerable to accidents and attacks. Each shipping container would hold 40 to 240 times the long-lasting radioactivity released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb. This is nothing to rush into!
To see how close such road and rail shipment routes could come to you, go tohttp://www.ewg.org/reports/nuclearwaste/find_address.php and type in your address to find out.
Proposed barge shipment routes on the bays, rivers, lakes, and coastlines of America can be viewed at:http://www.nirs.org/radwaste/hlwtransport/mobilechernobyl.htm (look for the links under the year 2004 listing).
Sen. Domenici’s dangerous scheme, just like the scientifically indefensible Yucca Mountain dump proposal, is merely an attempt to create the “illusion of a solution” (as Michael Keegan of Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes has put it) to the radioactive waste problem, in order to justify license extensions at old reactors and to build new reactors for the first time in over 30 years.
For a detailed analysis of H.R. 5427 prepared by Michele Boyd at Public Citizen, go tohttp://www.citizen.org/documents/SummaryNuclearWasteStorageProvisions.pdf. Public Citizen also has an easy way to write your elected officials on these issues at: http://action.citizen.org/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=5324 .
For copies of the letters from elected officials that have already been sent to Sen. Domenici in opposition to this proposal, contact me and I’d be happy to email it to you.
We’ve stopped similar dangerous proposals time and time again for many years, and we can do it again now! For example, the “Private Fuel Storage” dump targeted at the Skull Valley Goshutes Indian Reservation in Utah — another supposedly “interim” storage site proposal — was likely killed after a bitter ten year struggle in early September. This was a tremendous environmental justice victory. Read more about it at http://www.nirs.org/radwaste/scullvalley/svnews090706.htm. Of course, we’ve also successfully stopped “interim” storage near Yucca Mountain at the Nevada Test Site for over a decade — another battle that is heating back up again…