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Apr-24-2012 19:42printcomments

Hanford May Be High-Level Nuclear Waste Storage Site

Heart of America Northwest, says a US Senate bill moved today could lead to trucks of radioactive waste on NW roads.

Hanford dumping ground
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(SEATTLE) - In a repeat from past battles over proposals to send the nation’s High-Level Nuclear Waste from commercial nuclear reactors to Hanford, the US Senate Appropriations Subcommittee (which funds the federal Energy Department (USDOE)) approved a provision today which could lead to Hanford’s nomination – once again - to be a national High-Level Nuclear Waste storage site, warned the region’s leading group working for the cleanup of Hanford, Heart of America Northwest.

The Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee approved a provision authorizing the Secretary of Energy to proceed to develop one or more sites to which all the nation’s High-Level Nuclear Waste from reactors would be shipped to. Federal Energy Department sites, such as Hanford, would have preference.

“Trucking High-Level Nuclear Waste to Hanford or any other short term storage site will unnecessarily cause hundreds of fatal cancers along the truck routes,” warned Gerry Pollet, Executive Director of Heart of America Northwest, the region’s leading citizens’ group working for the cleanup of Hanford (Pollet is also a state Representative for the 46th District, N. Seattle).

Heart of America Northwest calls for storing the fuel in hardened casks at reactors, removing it as fast as possible from the vulnerable water storage pools, because trucking the wastes twice greatly increases the risks and health impacts; and, because of the risk that the “storage” site will become permanent instead of the nation developing a safe deep underground repository.

“We are struggling as a region to get the federal Energy Department to cleanup Hanford, not add more waste to the most contaminated and dangerous facility in the nation,” said Pollet. “We already are fighting two pending proposals from the federal Energy Department to use Hanford as a national radioactive-hazardous waste dump for burial of nearly every other type of radioactive waste.”

“If Governor Gregoire and the next Governor do not use our state hazardous waste permit authority to bar this in the next year, we face a disastrous risk of adding nearly as much radiation to Hanford’s soil as is in all the High-Level Nuclear Waste tanks which we are struggling to have the Energy Department remove.”

In 2008, the Bush Administration proposed to send the nation’s “spent nuclear fuel” High Level Nuclear Waste from reactors to one or more USDOE sites for storage, including Hanford. The federal Energy Department’s own draft impact statement (GNEP EIS) calculated that trucking the wastes would cause over 800 fatal cancers in adults along the truck routes.

The truck routes to Hanford include through downtown Portland and Spokane. Radiation from the spent nuclear fuel is so high that the casks on trucks can not entirely keep the radiation level in without making the casks too heavy to truck.

USDOE has two pending proposals for a total of approximately 30,000 truckloads of radioactive waste to come to Hanford for burial in two proposed landfills, including 12,000 truckloads of extremely radioactive (GTCC) wastes which are as hot as or hotter than Spent Nuclear Fuel and are mixed with hazardous chemical wastes. The Impact Statement on shipping GTCC waste to Hanford is not due out until after the Presidential election, while the USDOE has recently announced delaying – until after the upcoming public hearings - the release of the final impact statement on the other pending proposal to ship waste to Hanford, and on the impacts of plans to abandon wastes in Hanford’s soil.

Washington Dept. of Ecology has hearings around the region on a proposed revised Hanford hazardous waste permit (RCRA permit), which could be used to bar any more wastes from being disposed in the ground at Hanford so long as existing contamination is projected to exceed groundwater protection and health standards. USDOE’s own projections are for those standards to be violated for thousands of years at Hanford under its proposals which do not remove much of the contamination from High-Level Waste Tank leaks or 40 miles of leaking unlined ditches in which wastes were disposed.

In the late 1990’s Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK) proposed that the Spent Nuclear Fuel from the nation’s reactors be sent to Hanford for “storage.” Now, his daughter, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has joined California Senator Diane Feinstein in sponsoring this latest proposal to send the nation’s spent fuel to one or more USDOE sites.

The Senate committee’s proposed funding level would not have a significant cut for cleanup at USDOE sites, including Hanford.

Hearings on the Hanford hazardous waste permit, whose draft fails to have provisions promised in the past by Governor Gregoire to bar any more offsite waste until existing wastes are in compliance and projected releases do not violate standards, are scheduled as follows:

  • Seattle 7 PM May 15, University Heights Center (University Way NE)
  • Portland 7 PM May 16, Janzen Beach Red Lion
  • Spokane 6:30 PM June 5, City Council Chambers
  • Richland, 6:30 PM June 6, Red Lion
    (Heart of America Northwest will offer pre-hearing workshops 30 minutes prior to the start of hearings at each location).

The Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee met this on Tuesday April 24, 2012 to introduce its version of the FY 2013 (FY13) Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, and to refer that bill to the full Senate Appropriations Committee.

Spent Nuclear Fuel and Radioactive Waste Storage Policy

In response to this need, the bill adds a limited provision "providing the Department of Energy with the authority to initiate a pilot program for a consolidated storage facility," for the Spent Nuclear Fuel / High-Level Nuclear Waste from reactors, according to the committee's press release. Subcommittee Chair Dianne Feinstein said the process would be consent-based and enable the development of one or more interim storage sites.

Feinstein emphasized that the provision is limited in nature, and that Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is drafting comprehensive legislation to address the issue. Feinstein and her ranking member, Lamar Alexander, are working closing with Bingaman and his ranking member, Lisa Murkowski, on that comprehensive legislation.

Summary: The US Secretary of Energy is authorized to develop and license (by NRC) one or
more consolidated storage facilities on federal or private sites for spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level waste (HLW). Priority will be given to waste at sites without an operating reactor.

The Secretary must put out a Request for Proposal for cooperative agreement(s) within 120 days after enactment of the law.

Before any facility could be developed, the Secretary must have consent from the Governor of the State, local government, and Indian tribe (if applicable) where the site(s) are located.

There must be at least one public hearing held in the vicinity of the site and at least one hearing at some other site within the affected state.

For Immediate Release:
April 24, 2012

Rob Blumenthal w/Inouye 202-224-1010
Eve Goldsher 202-224-3751

Summary: FY13 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill

Feinstein applauds subcommittee approval of bill that invests in critical water infrastructure, advances clean energy technologies, secures nuclear material worldwide, and makes the nuclear weapons stockpile safer

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development today approved fiscal year 2013 funding legislation that totals $33.361 billion, which is $373 million below the fiscal year 2012 enacted level. The bill funds the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Bureau of Reclamation, which provide critical investments in water infrastructure, clean and alternative energy sources, and national security activities related to nuclear weapons modernization and preventing nuclear terrorism.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chairman of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, issued the following statement:

"This bill makes responsible investments in critical water infrastructure projects, clean energy technologies and nonproliferation and nuclear weapons programs. It allows the Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation to fulfill their public safety responsibilities around the country while safeguarding and modernizing our nuclear weapon stockpile. The bill adds a limited provision to begin addressing our lack of policy for long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste, providing the Department of Energy with the authority to initiate a pilot program for a consolidated storage facility."

Highlights of the fiscal year 2013 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill:

Department of Energy (DOE)-The bill provides $27.128 billion for DOE, which is $1.380 billion above fiscal year 2012. The subcommittee's priority is to advance clean energy technologies and invest in research that will spur future economic growth.

  • The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E)-The bill provides $312 million, which is $37 million above fiscal year 2012, to accelerate commercialization of future energy technologies that can reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil and tackle carbon emissions.
  • Office of Science-The bill provides $4.909 billion, which is $35 million above fiscal year 2012, for basic research. The highest priorities are materials and biological research to focus on breakthroughs in energy applications and computing to develop the next-generation high performance systems.
  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy-The bill provides $1.98 billion, which is $160 million more than fiscal year 2012, to advance solar, biomass, and vehicle technologies.
  • Electricity and Energy Reliability-The bill provides $143 million, which is $4 million more than fiscal year 2012, to support energy integration into the electric transmission grid. The bill fully funds a new Electricity Systems Hub to accelerate efforts to modernize the electric transmission and distribution systems.
  • Nuclear Energy-The bill provides $793 million, which is $31 million above fiscal year 2012 for nuclear energy. The bill fully funds the small modular reactors program to support design certification and licensing and begins to implement the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission to address safe long-term storage of commercial spent nuclear fuel and defense high level waste.

· The National Nuclear Security Administration-The bill provides $11.511 billion, which is $511 million above fiscal year 2012, for national security activities. The bill provides funding to accelerate efforts to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials by December 2013 and to modernize the nuclear weapons stockpile, including:

· $7.577 billion, which is $363 million above fiscal year 2012, for Weapons Activities to extend the life of three nuclear weapons systems, upgrade aging infrastructure, and invest in science, technology, and engineering activities,
· $2.459 billion, which is $163 million above fiscal year 2012, for Nuclear Nonproliferation to meet the four year goal to secure vulnerable nuclear materials and accelerate the conversion of reactors that still use weapons-grade uranium,
· $1.089 billion, which is $9 million above fiscal year 2012, for Naval Reactors to continue research and development of a new reactor for the Ohio-class submarine, and
· up to $150 million across the agency's accounts to fund a research, development, and demonstration project for domestic enrichment technologies.

  • Environmental Cleanup-The bill provides $5.7 billion, which is $3 million below fiscal year 2012, to remediate sites contaminated by defense and civilian activities. This includes $5.064 billion for Defense Environmental Cleanup to safely cleanup sites contaminated by previous nuclear weapons production.

Army Corps of Engineers
-The bill provides $5.007 billion, which is $276 million above the President’s budget request and $5 million above fiscal year 2012, including:

  • $2.404 billion, which is $8 million below fiscal year 2012, for Operations and Maintenance,
  • $1.7 billion, which is $6 million above fiscal year 2012, for Construction,
  • $253 million, which is $1 million above fiscal year 2012, for the Mississippi River and Tributaries,
  • $199 million, which is $6 million more than fiscal year 2012, for the Regulatory Program, and
  • $125 million, the same as fiscal year 2012, for General Investigations.

Department of the Interior
-The bill provides $1.049 billion, which is $15 million above the President's budget request and $27 million below fiscal year 2012, including the following highlights for the Bureau of Reclamation:

· $892 million, which is $3 million below fiscal year 2012, for Water and Related Resources,
· $40 million, which is $13 million below fiscal year 2012, for the Central Valley Project Restoration Fund, and
· $36 million, which is $4 million below fiscal year 2012, for the California Bay-Delta Restoration

Independent Agencies-The bill provides $250 million, which is $2 million below fiscal year 2012.

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PDX Mark April 26, 2012 2:34 pm (Pacific time)

What are 800 human lives worth to a congressman or a senator?

Anonymous April 25, 2012 11:37 am (Pacific time)

I worked at Hanford a couple years ago...I was paid big bucks and did almost nothing, 10 hours a day, 4 days a week. Seems that they required someone with my life safety license, which not too many have. Go into the bathrooms, about a dozen sinks, all with signs saying dont use the water. The tanks were leaking so their mission was to seal the leaks, but more important, use a new technology that would turn the waste into a sheet, something like a plate of glass. Its supposed to stay like that for like 100 years or something. Anyway, what a mess. The money waste was beyond my imagination. You would not believe what I saw. In fact, after about 4 months, even tho making more money than I ever had, I had to quit. I could NOT work in that environment..Their budget is in the billions, seriously. I remember one day, checking my email..on yahoo, and there was one of those ads about losing weight with a woman in a bikini. You know them. The boss walked by just then and told me "people are getting fired left and right for using company computers to watch porn" I'm like..ok, but can I at least check my yahoo email? Dear lord. He apologized. Just so you know, they got angry with me for quitting, because its very difficult to find someone with my experience and licenses. I am not a disgruntled ex-employee.

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