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Hanford May Be High-Level Nuclear Waste Storage SiteSalem-News.com
Heart of America Northwest, says a US Senate bill moved today could lead to trucks of radioactive waste on NW roads.
(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:
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
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
· 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:
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