Nuclear Waste

Vermont Nuclear Plant Searching for Missing Fuel Rods
Nuclear Waste

AP: "Two pieces of a highly radioactive fuel rod are missing from a Vermont nuclear plant, and engineers planned to search onsite for the nuclear material, officials said Wednesday. The fuel rod was removed in 1979 from the Vermont Yankee reactor, which is currently shut down for refueling and maintenance. Remote-control cameras will be used to search a spent fuel pool on the property, officials said. 'We do not think there is a threat to the public at this point. The great probability is this material is still somewhere in the pool,' said Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan."

Bush to Let Nuke Contractors Write Their Own Safety Rules
Nuclear Waste

In response to a directive from Congress to start fining contractors at nuclear plants for violating safety regulations, the Bush regime is moving to replace those regulations with standards written by the contractor. This isn't just foxes guarding the henhouse - this is arsonists running the fire department.

Nuke Waste Disposal Co. Used Spam Tactic to Try to Influence Legislation
Nuclear Waste

The Salt Lake Tribune reports: "Sen. Patrice Arent, D-Murray, and fellow Democrats held a town meeting two weeks ago to gauge voter sentiment on various issues. While plans to permit disposal of hotter radioactive waste in Utah didn't generate much discussion, much to Arent's surprise, days later she received 140 surveys by mail in support of higher-level waste. The surveys were anonymous but addresses showed the entire batch was from Tooele, home of waste disposal giant Envirocare, and neighboring Grantsville. 'They were filled out by Envirocare employees,' Arent said. Khosrow Semnani and Tim Barney, two of Envirocare's top executives, insist the company's staff sent in comments of their own accord. 'We weren't trying to stack the deck or anything,' said Barney. " LOL!

Bush Wants to Relabel Spent Fuel Rods as 'Low-level Waste'
Nuclear Waste

"The Energy Department has asked Congress to allow it to redefine some nuclear waste so it can be left in place or sent to sites intended for low-level radioactive material, rather than being buried deep underground." This is about the only truly informative thing in this marshmallow of a NY Times article. The article fails to mention the Bush DOE intends to redefine as "incidental waste" not just "salts and sludges" but SPENT FUEL RODS to save the cost of vitrification, dry-cask handling and burial at sites like Yucca Mountain. Spent fuel rods are one of the most dangerous materials on the planet. A single major spent fuel rod disaster could render a 29,000-square mile area uninhabitable for decades. But Bush in essence wants to redefine what constitutes a danger to the American public. Nonexistent nukes in Iraq are supposed to terrify us more than thousands of tons of spent fuel rods in our "backyards" being handled as if they were low-level wastes! Unbelievable!

Playing with Nuclear Fire: Bush Ignores the Risks of Fuel Rod Fires
Nuclear Waste

"If spent fuel rods are accidentally exposed to air, they will ignite a catastrophic fire, triggering a nuclear disaster worse than Chernobyl. A spent rod fire can't be extinguished by any known means and would roar for days. Security experts at the NRC say in a spent fuel building fire involving just one pond, more cesium-137 (an intensely radiactive isotope) would be released than the sum total released by all the atmospheric nuclear weapons tests ever conducted in the No. Hemisphere. An area up to 29,000 square miles around ground zero of a fire at a large pool would be rendered uninhabitable. Events that could lead to a pool fire: leakage, evaporation, siphoning, pumping of the water, aircraft impact, earthquake, the dropping of a dry cask (a concrete and steel container used to store rods once they are removed from the pools), reactor accidents, or an explosion in or near the pool building."

Bush Pro-Nuke Policy Approaches Insanity of the Former Soviet Union
Nuclear Waste

To enrich his friends in the nuke, fossil fuel and mining industries, Bush is allowing vast tracts of America to be turned into no-man's lands in the long term, while in the near-term forbidding America to develop any comprehensive plan for the future. Writes Robert Alvarez, "Using terms like 'risk reduction' and 'cost savings,' the Bush Administration and the DOE are thus starting to emulate the former Soviet Union, which unabashedly wrote off large areas of land, water, and people living near nuclear weapons sites... Last year the Bush Administration abruptly canceled 'long-term stewardship' planning by the National Academy of Sciences, signaling its intent to walk away from the DOE's environmental problems." What this amounts to is the sacrifice of the future of Americans for the immediate gain of a handful of robber barons.

The Bush Solution: Cheaper Radioactive Waste Disposal with Less State Involvement
Nuclear Waste

Grist Magazine reports: "A month ago, a federal judge ordered the Department of Energy to remove 85 million gallons of liquid nuclear waste from sites in Idaho, South Carolina, and Washington by shipping it to Yucca Mountain. Environmental officials from the three states asked the DOE to follow federal laws when handling the waste; instead, Energy Sec. Spencer Abraham began rewriting them. The 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act requires the federal government to discuss nuclear waste disposal with the states where the waste will be kept; now, Abraham wants to revise the rules to allow the feds to classify waste as low-level without consulting with states. That classification would enable the waste to be disposed of more cheaply - for instance by mixing it with grout and burying it, rather than requiring that it be shipped to a disposal site designed for high-level nuclear waste." Pay for sound toxic waste disposal, or give tax cuts to the rich? Bush's priority is clear...

'Illegal': Judge Rules against Bush Energy Dept. Plan for Nuclear Clean-up
Nuclear Waste

The NY Times reports: "The Energy Department's plan for cutting billions of dollars and several years off the bomb-waste cleanup at three government nuclear reservations is illegal, a federal judge has ruled, because it would leave some of the wastes in shallow burial despite Congress's prescription that they can be safely disposed of only in a deep 'geologic' repository. The radioactive wastes are in tanks, many already rusting, at a reservation in Hanford, Wash., another near Aiken, S.C., and a third in Idaho... Jeremy Maxand, executive director of the Snake River Alliance, an environmental group in Boise that was among the plaintiffs, said, 'There has been an attempt to cut corners and shave off dollars,' and added: 'We're not as interested in doing the job as quickly as possible with the least amount of money. We'd like to see it done right the first time, as safely as possible.'"

Bush Wants to Pump $54 Billion into Vast Network of Nuclear Waste Tunnels to Bail-Out Nuclear Industry
Nuclear Waste

If you think Yucca Mountain was a disastrous concept, wait until you hear what the "new and overempowered" Bush wants to do next! In addition to the YM nuke waste storage area, he wants to carve 68 MILES worth of tunnels under Nevada Mountains for storing 70,000 tons of additional waste - at a cost of $54 billion of our tax dollars over 8 years. The purpose? To bail out the ailing nuke industry - an industry that was ailing because it had never devised a satisfactory way to store its wastes or insure its safety. What is the alternative Democratic plan? To spend just half of that $54 billion over the next 8 years to perfect viable fuel cell technologies that will end our reliance on fossil fuels AND nukes.

Truck Laden with Nuclear Waste Hit by Drunk Driver Bursts into Flames -- But Don't Worry, the Bush Administration Says Nuke Transport is Safe!
Nuclear Waste

From KRQE in Albuquerque: "A tractor-trailer truck carrying nuclear waste from Idaho to the federal waste dump near Carlsbad was hit by a pickup truck that caught on fire. Officials say no one was seriously injured and there was no leak of radioactivity. " At least this time, eh?! "The driver of the pickup truck -- 19-year-old Israel Alvidrez of Seminole, Texas -- was being held in the Eddy County jail on charges of drunken driving and driving without a license." And we're supposed to believe such hazards are predictable! "The assistant manager of the waste program for the Energy Department's Carlsbad field office is Kerry Watson. He says there was no damage to the transport containers bound for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant." This time!!! "The accident occurred early Sunday morning on U-S 62-180 on the north side of Carlsbad. Watson says it was the first in 1,144 shipments to WIPP." Can't wait to see what happens with 2 through 1,144!

South Carolina Gov. Declares Emergency to Block Plutonium Shipments
Nuclear Waste

CNN reports, "SC Gov. Jim Hodges declared an emergency Friday and ordered police to block federal plutonium shipments from entering the state. The federal Energy Department is scheduled to ship the plutonium from the Rocky Flats weapons plant in Colorado -- which is being closed -- to South Carolina's Savannah River nuclear weapons complex, where it would be used as fuel for a nuclear power plant... Hodges said, 'I order that the transportation of plutonium on South Carolina roads and highways be prohibited.'... The shipments legally could begin as early as this weekend, but U.S. Attorney Strom Thurmond Jr. (!) said Energy Department officials told him they would not start until after June 22." The Bushies believe in states' rights - except when it interferes with corporate profits. They are also obsessed with re-fighting the Civil War - and it looks like they might just get what they are wishing for...

The Colorado River Will Eventually Run through a Uranium Slag Heap!
Nuclear Waste

AP writes, "A federal report warned that the Colorado River will one day run directly through a uranium slag heap, raising the possibility of radioactive contamination of the reliable water source for 25 million people. Although the slag heap is about 750 feet from the river's edge near Moab, Utah, rivers often migrate, and it is a 'near certainty the river's course will run across the Moab site at some time in the future,' according to a report by the National Research Council, the chief operating arm of the National Academies. Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego, has petitioned the Bush administration to move the heap, which was left from a uranium mill that closed in 1994." With all evidence pointing to a serious crisis, the Bush administration has stalled these efforts.

Agency In Charge of Shipping Plutonium Had 100 Accidents and Security Lapses in the '90s!
Nuclear Waste

The Greenville News reports that the DOE agency in charge of shipping plutonium to South Carolina "had 100 incidents in the 1990s ranging from radiation contamination to accidents and security lapses" in the 1990s. The paper reports that "Trailers and trailer parts have been contaminated by radiation, vehicles damaged in accidents, planes have malfunctioned and been hit by lightning, some classified information was released and an escort vehicle was stolen, according to the records that list incidents from 1990 through 1998 reported to the Energy Department's Occurrence Reporting Program System." Given this spotty record, and with terrorists on the loose plotting dirty bomb attacks, Bush expects us to trust them to ship 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium 1500 miles from Colorado to South Carolina??

Bush Turns Columbia SC into a Nuclear Waste Dump
Nuclear Waste

The NY Times reports, "For years the Energy Department has promised to clean nearly all the radioactivity out of bomb wastes [in Columbia SC] that are to be secured in giant concrete blocks. Now, faced with a cleaning technology that it has been unable to make work properly for more than a decade, department officials have reversed themselves. The new proposal to mix a sizable portion of the waste with cement without cleaning it is adding to tensions between the federal government and Gov. Jim Hodges... who has threatened to use state troopers to block new shipments of plutonium into the site... 'This is a radical and unheralded shift in our national policy for the management and disposal of defense high level wastes,' said Robert Alvarez, who was a senior advisor to the energy secretary in the Clinton administration. 'It reflects a drift toward the practices of the Soviet nuclear weapons program, which unabashedly wrote off, large areas and water supplies.'"