NRC must take charge on waste

September 30, 2013 

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is in a pickle. They were ordered by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to study the environmental impacts of storing more than 70,000 metric tons of spent fuel indefinitely in either pools or dry casks at 104 nuclear sites across the nation.

Not least among these nuclear waste storage dumps is Diablo Canyon. It sits on a fragile coastline surrounded by at least 13 earthquake faults, two classified as “major” and “active” by the U.S. Geological Service. Diablo Canyon has more than 2,000 metric tons of waste in spent fuel pools and dry-cask storage. The spent-fuel pools are packed five times as densely as they were designed for, but PG&E resists moving the waste into safer dry casks.

The NRC cannot offer a proven method of storing radioactive waste in isolation from humans for the thousand generations they remain lethal. So, like a small child who cannot distinguish between reality and wishful thinking, it arbitrarily declares that it has “confidence” that, magically, a solution will be found.

Yucca Mountain as a permanent repository is off the table because it is geologically unsuitable for storing radioactive waste. No alternative site has been identified. States and tribal entities do not want the legacy of storing lethal byproducts of nuclear power for the next quarter-million years. The NRC has hit the wall.

Why on Earth would the NRC allow more of this toxic substance to be created if there is nowhere to put it? And why would it allow lethal wastes to be stored in unprotected spent fuel pools that are vulnerable to terrorist attack, earthquake, tsunami and flooding rather than insist that it be moved into safer Hardened On-Site Storage in dry casks? Many lessons can be learned from Fukushima, and one of them is that the dry casks survived the 9.0-magnitude quake and continued to protect the spent fuel, even though the tsunami flooded them. By contrast, two-anda-half years later, the pools are spewing radiation into the air and water, and no solution is in sight!

SLO Mothers for Peace urges that the public join us in attending the Oct. 7 NRC hearing at the Courtyard Marriott in San Luis Obispo. Attendees may speak with representatives from NRC from 6 to 7 p.m., The public meeting from 7 to 10 p.m. is an opportunity to express opinions and ask questions. Go to www.mothersfor   or our Facebook page for information. The only way the NRC will know people care is if they see us there. Even if you do not plan to speak, your presence will speak volumes.

Sustainable energy sources are available and increasing rapidly in California. NOW is the time to stop creating more of this deadly poison.

Linda Seeley is a spokeswoman for San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace.

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