Posted by: coastlinesproject | October 20, 2011

The Conservation Law Foundation, A Solution for Spent Nuclear Fuel?

As we know many nuclear plants are located in coastal areas where spent fuel becomes a pressing issue. Attached from the Conservation Law Foundation:

A Solution for Spent Nuclear Fuel? Let’s Hope So.
Posted: 17 Oct 2011 01:20 PM PDT
A federal commission is about to recommend a new plan for finding final resting places for spent nuclear fuel, and they want to hear from us.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future is a fifteen-member group established by the Secretary of Energy pursuant to an executive order from President Obama. The commission’s goal is to conduct a comprehensive review of policies for managing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle, including all alternatives for the storage, processing, and disposal of civilian and defense used nuclear fuel and nuclear waste.

The problem with spent nuclear fuel is that it requires long-term storage, and the federal government has continued to delay acting on a centralized long-term plan. To complicate matters further, the Department of Energy ended a project at Yucca Mountain in Nevada last year that was supposed to be the government’s long-term solution. To fix the problem, the Obama administration created the Commission, which in turn developed draft recommendations including: 1) a new approach to siting disposal facilities; 2) a new organization focused exclusively on transportation, storage, and disposal of nuclear waste; and 3) efforts to develop a new permanent deep geological facility for the safe disposal of spent fuel and high-level nuclear waste.

Last week in Boston, CLF provided recommendations to the Commission as part of a panel addressing the consent-based radioactive waste siting process. CLF’s comments (see below) focused primarily on inequities in the current process, suggesting that decision-making process is too centralized in the federal government and out of public view, which cuts out many environmental and health interests and breeds distrust in the outcome.

The process of dealing with spent nuclear fuel is crucial for everyone’s safety and health. The comment period for the Commission’s Draft Report to the Secretary of Energy ends October 31.

You can comment on the Commission’s web site where you can also see the draft report.

Here are a few ideas to offer the Commission:

Expand responsibility and oversight. Amend the Atomic Energy Act, and narrow the scope of federal preemption to give states, local governments and other agencies their traditional oversight role for the environment.
Give people who will be affected by the outcome of siting and other decisions a voice. States, citizens, communities, and environmental and health interests need to be an integral part of the decision-making process.
Provide funding and independent technical expertise to level the playing field among participants. This is an issue in any siting decision, but the stakes are considerably higher with nuclear facilities.

Read more in “Fukushima, Nuclear crisis on the Ring of Fire,” available as an E-book, see tabs on top of this page.

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