The following letter and a supplemental packet of supportive information (see NEIS Literature page for some of these) was submitted by U.S. mail and e-mail to the entire Illinois Delegation to Congress today, urging them to oppose the re-start of the Yucca Mt. site, and “centralized interim storage” (CIS) of reactor spent fuel. NEIS urged instead that Congress support the use of “hardened on-site storage” (HOSS) of reactor spent fuel, and get on with a legitimately scientific investigation for a permanent deep-geologic disposal facility for the wastes.

Legislation (H.R.3053) supporting Yucca and CIS is expected to be voted on in the House in early October. (See Action Alert of 9/21/17 below).

The Letter:

23 September, 2017

TO: Illinois Congressional Delegation

RE: proposed legislation on Yucca Mt. and “Centralized Interim Storage” (CIS) of High-Level Radioactive Waste (HLRW)

Greetings,

We hope that this letter finds you well.

By all recent news accounts and objective measures, the Nuclear Age as we knew it is coming to an end. In its place we are entering the “Age of Decommissioning.” This is the period where reactors close and are torn down, and both they and the wastes they have produced and accumulated for decades must be dealt with and kept sequestered from the environment for as much as thousands of years.

For a variety of reasons – mostly political, and many pre-dating the years of Harry Reid and Barack Obama – society has prepared poorly for The Age of Decommissioning. Utilities try to dodge the inevitable closure of reactors by seeking government bailouts to prop up failing reactors. Agencies charged with protecting the public and the environment enact faulty or inadequate regulations, or fail to enforce the good ones. And, the short term needs of Congressional election cycles long past have left the enormous nuclear structure with literally no “bathroom.” And now, the debt collector is at the Nation’s door.

With the Nation’s nose very close to the fan blades, Congress now scrambles to “take swift action” on complex, serious problems that have been left to fester for decades. But, speed of action is not what is needed. This is not a movie set, where you get multiple takes to “get it right.” We will only have one opportunity to get right the choices we must make on reactor decommissioning and nuclear waste disposal that will properly protect the public and the environment.

Because of this reality, we urge you to reject the flawed, facile responses to the Nation’s radioactive waste problem found in H.R.3053 – the ‘‘Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017’’.

Specifically, we urge you to 1.) reject the re-start of the flawed Yucca Mt. site in Nevada; and 2.) reject the implementation of “centralized interim storage” (CIS) facilities for spent-fuel from reactors.

We instead ask you to advocate for 1.) the use of “hardened on-site storage” (HOSS) of reactor spent-fuel in enhanced enclosures at reactor sites, while 2.) the initiation and completion of a genuinely science-based search for a permanent deep geologic HLRW repository, one where the science comes first and is thorough, before Congress and the President make the final selection, and where the historic petty politics of the last 35 years will stand down and permit that kind of search to proceed.

We provide you with short background pieces that illustrate the many flaws and undesirability of engaging in CIS or a Yucca Mt. re-start; and the positive attributes of the viable alternative HOSS proposal for handling HLRW.

We are available to discuss these issues in greater detail with you and your staff; and can provide you with contact information for experts of national and international renown in the fields of radioactive waste storage, transport and disposal.

NEIS has followed this issue since 1982, when the Nuclear Waste Policy Act first passed. We recognize that Illinois, with its 11 operating and 3 closed reactors, and the Nation’s only HLRW storage facility, is the 10th largest nuclear power in the world (just behind the UK and Ukraine). We recognize that the 10,000+ tons of HLRW generated by Exelon Corporation’s reactors is the largest inventory in the U.S. The easy choice would be for us to become NIMBY’s and clamor to have this headache removed ASAP, to somebody else’s backyard.

However, this is not about “easy” choices – it’s about making the right choice the first time. We cannot support inadequate plans made more out of political expedience than sound science and environmental responsibility.

For these reasons we encourage you to reject the irresponsible provisions found in H.R.3053. We look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for your consideration of our views. Stay well.

NEIS was honored to march with the national Veterans for Peace as part of their national conference in Chicago, Aug. 13th. The VFP theme was: “Education! NOT Militarization!” as VFP decried in insidious infiltration of all grade levels of U.S. schools by military recruiters and ROTC programs, while funding for basic education goes unmet.

NEIS Director Dave Kraft was asked to address the VFP crowd at the site of Chicago Vietnam Memorial.  He spoke on the connections between nuclear weapons and nuclear power, both historic and present, and called for the end of the Nuclear Age, a call which was enthusiastically received by the VFP marchers.  In a parting shot to the pro-nuclear Trump Administration (Trump Tower Chicago is right across the Chicago River from the Vietnam Memorial), Kraft energized the crowd by invoking the legendary fictional TV announcer Howard Beale, getting the crowd to its feet and shout towards Trump Tower, “We’re as mad as hell, and we’re not gonna take this anymore!”

 

NEIS Board President Speaks at Chicago Hiroshima Observance

On Sunday August 6, over 60 people gathered at the Henry Moore Sculpture to Atomic Energy on the Hyde Park campus of the University of Chicago – the place where the first human controlled chain reaction experiment occurred on Dec. 2, 1942 – to observe the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in 1945.

Estimates vary, but over 200,000 people were killed by the two bombs dropped on these cities, ushering in the age of nuclear warfare.

Many speakers gave moving speeches including one second generation atom bombing survivor.  Overall, the messages were messages of peace, and of resistance to the continued threat of nuclear weapons.

And, nuclear power.  NEIS President Gail Snyder and Secretary Linda Lewison gave moving presentations to conclude the event

The Annual event was put together by long-time peace activist Brad Lyttle, Zen teacher Taigan Dan Leighton, and moderated by peace activist and NEIS supporter Roberta Siegel.

The legendary entertainer, musician, and just great human being Bonnie Raitt once again invited NEIS (and 5 other cause groups she supports) to table at her concert held at Wrigley Field in Chicago on July 17th. Sharing the bill with James Taylor, Raitt performed impeccably before a noticeably loyal fan base crowd. The tabling was hosted as part of the “Green Highway” team that accompanies her on tour, inviting groups she supports to table and give info to concert-goers.

Raitt also made time to invite the NEIS Team back stage after her set for a short chat about fighting nukes, pipelines and other environmental injustices. Board members Stephanie Bilenko, Kathleen Rude and Linda Lewison, and NEIS Director Dave Kraft got to spend some time catching up with Bonnie, who is a long-time regular supporter of NEIS and other anti-nuclear groups.

 

In preparation for taking on the reactionary Trump environmental agenda, Greenpeace hosted a two day training on non-violent direct action (NVDA) in Chicago, Saturday and Sunday, July 1-2 – just in time for Independence Day. Many REAL patriots attended this event, including NEIS Board members Stephanie Bilenko and Kathleen Rude.

NEIS will engage in whatever activity it takes to create a carbon-free, nuclear-free world in opposition to the destructive and planet-threatening energy agenda of the Trump Administration.

To quote Julia Ward Howe: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies.” You better believe that!

Pictured: NEIS Board member Kathleen Rude briefing attendees of Greenpeace NVDA training in Chicago, July 2.

“Carbon-Free/Nuclear-Free by 2040!” – or, we’re toast.

NEIS was honored to march with the national Veterans for Peace as part of their national conference in Chicago, Aug. 13th. The VFP theme was: “Education! NOT Militarization!” as VFP decried in insidious infiltration of all grade levels of U.S. schools by military recruiters and ROTC programs, while funding for basic education goes unmet.

NEIS Director Dave Kraft was asked to address the VFP crowd at the site of Chicago Vietnam Memorial.  He spoke on the connections between nuclear weapons and nuclear power, both historic and present, and called for the end of the Nuclear Age, a call which was enthusiastically received by the VFP marchers.  In a parting shot to the pro-nuclear Trump Administration (Trump Tower Chicago is right across the Chicago River from the Vietnam Memorial), Kraft energized the crowd by invoking the legendary fictional TV announcer Howard Beale, getting the crowd to its feet and shout towards Trump Tower, “We’re as mad as hell, and we’re not gonna take this anymore!”

 

Two absolutely brilliant statements about the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan are captured by Chicago media treasure CAN-TV on the 6th anniversary of the Fukushima disaster. Ten NEIS supporters staged an event outside of the Japanese Consul Office in Chicago on March 11th. NEIS President Gail Snyder, and Professor Emeritus Dr. Norman Field gave impassioned statements urging greater efforts to stem the ongoing radioactive pollution of the Pacific Ocean. The safe-energy advocates collected postcards to be sent to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, urging that he and the Japanese government seek international help to stop the ongoing pollution.

Water IS Life: Stop Polluting the Pacific Ocean!

Today, we observe the 6th anniversary of the ongoing nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station in Japan.  Six years after what is arguably the world’s worst nuclear disaster, one which was avoidable even under the extraordinary conditions of the massive earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, Japan’s destroyed reactors continue to dump between 300-400 tons of water contaminated with radionuclides daily into the Pacific Ocean.  These radioactive discharges not only represent an immediate health threat to the local bio-systems, they have now been detected with certainty as far away as the U.S. Pacific West Coast.

After 6 years we have seen:

  • the failure of the ice wall containment to keep radioactive run-off water out of the Pacific Ocean;
  • the ever growing contaminated water tank farms;
  • confirmation of three complete core melts, with no idea how to clean them up;
  • government imposition of radiation standards on the general population of Japan, especially young school children most vulnerable to the effects of radiation, many times greater than those allowed for nuclear plant workers in Europe and North America;
  • accusations taken to the United Nations of human rights violations perpetrated against children and women in Japan from the contaminated areas;
  • corruption complaints against the numerous private contractors conducting the so-called cleanup efforts;
  • and finally, the daily flow of 400 tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean – the WORLD’S largest body of surface water.

In spite of Japan’s best efforts, it is clear that no substantive progress has been made, and no solution is in sight.  Fukushima is now a  WORLD catastrophe.  It requires a WORLD intervention.

In essence Japan’s inability to contain the ongoing Fukushima disaster constitutes a crime against humanity, one that will last far into the future.  It also demonstrates Japan’s inability to get the situation under control on its own, a situation which therefore calls for international intervention – voluntarily accepted or not; and/or sanctions from the world community whose health and future the continued contamination jeopardizes.

As we learned this past year at Oceti Sakowin (Standing Rock), “Water is Life;” and the Pacific Ocean is the WORLD’S water.  Japan must consider internationalization of the continued efforts to stop the Fukushima catastrophe.  We feel there is no choice remaining but to petition the United Nations to create an international intervention team to stop the ongoing contamination of the Pacific Ocean, and of Japan.

EVENING PROGRAM

Short films and discussion about the Fukushima disaster will take place at the NEIS Office in the evening of march 10th: 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.,  3411 W. Diversey, Ste. 13, Chicago IL  60647.  This is in Logan Square, Chicago, at Kimball, Milwaukee and Diversey Aves., at the Logan Square Blue Line “L” stop.  Open to the public.  Admission free.

 

Read more

WILL NUCLEAR POWER’S DEATH SPIRAL KILL US ALL?

Harvey Wasserman’s Solartopia show of March 9th, featured the Moe, Larry and Curly of the anti-nuclear movement – Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear, Tim Judson of Nuclear Information and Resource Service, and Dave Kraft of Chicago’s Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS). We discuss Fukushima on the 6th anniversary of the disaster, and the nuclear bailouts in Illinois, New York and Ohio.

We began by assessing the final collapse of the push for new nukes in the US, especially with the collapse of Westinghouse and France’s Areva. But we then examine the far more terrifying turf of dying old uncompetitive nukes being kept on line with huge state-based hand-outs.

Basically it boils down to your money AND your life.

 

Letter to the Editors     

The “nuclear hostage crisis” is finally over.  Governor Rauner and the Illinois Legislature has ordered all Illinois ratepayers to pay the $2.35 billion ransom to Exelon Corporation over the next ten years, ostensibly to save the ~1,500 jobs at the Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear reactors.  That amounts to $1.57 million for each job “saved.”  Heckuva job, Raunie!

But this threat of job loss has only been postponed not eliminated.  Every operating reactor has an inevitable ending hanging over it known as its operating license termination date – the date beyond which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says, “Game over, lights out!”  That date is publicly available, and was known in advance for Clinton and Quad, and for all other Illinois reactors – meaning that every reactor community in Illinois will at some point be going through the same psychodrama that unfolded around Clinton and Quad Cities recently.

Make no mistake – the impact of Exelon’s closure threats were real, needed to be taken seriously, and would have been hugely painful to those communities.  Loss of jobs, reduced tax base and reduction of public services are all very real effects experienced by the Zion community when ComEd closed those reactors in 1998, effects from which it still has not recovered, according to Mayor Al Hill.

Responsible governance calls for this never happening again.  Responsible governance calls for pro-active plans to insure that workers are protected, and local tax bases are not decimated overnight by legally allowed corporate caprice.  Illinois needs a “reactor exit strategy” in place BEFORE the next nuclear hostage crisis occurs.

Gov. Rauner said he supported the Exelon bailout because, “closing the plants would have “devastated the two communities.”  If he really and truly believes that, then he should have worked to bail out the potentially devastated communities, not the hugely profitable Exelon corporation.

For over 2 years our organization argued that the State must insist that a “just transitions” program be instituted to protect reactor (and perhaps coal) communities from the withdrawal of “company town” utilities like Exelon.  Absent such a proactive plan, this “bailout tango” will be repeated in the future when Byron, LaSalle, Dresden and Braidwood start to become “unprofitable” for Exelon.

We spelled out potential funding mechanisms, which are eminently negotiable. We left copies of this plan at the offices of over 40 legislators and state officials, including Governor Rauner’s office, Rep. Madigan’s office, Sen. Cullerton’s office, the AG’s office, and numerous individual legislators including Sen. Radogno, the Clean Jobs Bill sponsors, and others.  We personally gave copies to Sen. Chapin Rose who represents the Clinton community, and representatives from the Quad Cities chamber of commerce and City Administrator of Clinton.  We made it part of our testimony before the House and Senate Energy Committees.  We urged that it become a topic of discussion and negotiation in the recently enacted legislation.

No luck.

Evidently. legislators love 6-hour public hearings, and annual bailout proceedings.  It’s much easier to pass the bills along to disempowered ratepayers than to engage in responsible governance.

Already, Exelon has announced to Bloomberg Press that it’s possible that the Byron nuclear station could become economically challenged as early as 2017.  We asked legislators during the House Energy Committee hearing on the Exelon bailout if they will convene more six hour hearings to debate more bailouts when Dresden becomes challenged, or Braidwood, or LaSalle.  Then, they can start with the coal communities.  Or alternately, they can plan ahead for the inevitable.

Now that Exelon has received its pound of flesh, the public needs protection.  The Spring legislative session would not be too soon to enact a “just transitions” provision that protects both communities affected by powerplant closures, and Illinois ratepayers now forced to pay ransom to delay them.

But then, that would require governance.  And this is Illinois.

 

Published Version

NOTE: A version of this letter appeared in the State Journal Register, Dec. 13, 2016

Star Journal Register