NEIS to IL Delegation: NO to Yucca and CIS

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,

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