Monday, October 15, 2007


The Pahrump Valley Times reported just last week the Department of Energy is proposing doubling the size of a national nuclear waste repository at Yucca Flats in Nevada. Citing ongoing production of waste at nuclear power plants around the country, the Energy Department has revealed plans to entomb almost 150,000 tons of highly radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain.

At about the same time a German anti-nuclear group said the world’s biggest supplier of enriched uranium, URENCO, is frantically seeking German and Dutch transport licenses to send waste to an open-air dump in Russia before Russia stops the dumping at the latest in 2009.

In Rome anti-Mafia police are investigating eight former directors of the country’s energy agency for alleged illegal trafficking in nuclear waste and “clandestine production of plutonium”. The accusation came after a 12-year inquiry into Mafia involvement in nuclear waste disposal. Mr Basentini said that the Mafia had organised the illegal disposal of nuclear waste at sea, in the Somali desert and at Matera, in southern Italy.

Sounds great, huh?

Well keep in mind nuclear waste likely passes through your burg all the time.

But what's happening today is nothing compared with what may be happening soon.

The same material that blew apart and burned during the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe in 1986 – highly radioactive, irradiated nuclear fuel – would be transported through countless communities across the U.S. if the nuclear establishment gets its way. The U.S. Department of Energy proposes shipping tens of thousands of trucks, trains and barges carrying irradiated nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste through 45 states and the District of Columbia. DOE wants to dump these highly radioactive wastes at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. A nuclear utility consortium called Private Fuel Storage, LLC proposes shipping 4,000 irradiated nuclear fuel railcars to Skull Valley, Utah for "temporary storage." Such proposals dwarf the 2,500 to 3,000 irradiated nuclear fuel shipments that have taken place in the U.S. since the beginning of the Nuclear Age well over 50 years ago.

As reported by the Nuclear Information and Resource Service each truck-sized container of nuclear material would hold up to 40 times the long-lasting radioactivity released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb. The much larger train/barge containers would each hold over 200 times Hiroshima’s long-lasting radioactivity.

These shipping containers are vulnerable to severe accidents. Even a fraction of a single shipping container’s radioactive cargo escaping into the environment could prove catastrophic for an entire area downwind and downstream. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not even require them to undergo full-scale physical safety testing! The containers are also vulnerable to terrorist attack, making them massive “dirty bombs on wheels.”

Then think about that bridge accident near Los Angeles last week.

It is not a pretty picture.

The following is from Media With Conscience News News.

Folly of nuke waste transport plan
15-truck fiery pileup in California highlights folly of nuke waste transport plan

One might recall, last April (2007), when a section of freeway near the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge collapsed after a gasoline tanker truck overturned and erupted into flames.

One might recall a fire in a tunnel near Baltimore, when a train burned for five days and the heat was estimated at more than 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, exceeding design limits for nuke waste transport casks. It's easy to forget, because it happened July 18-23, 2001, but we must not forget.

The same tunnel will probably be used to transport nuclear waste from Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant to Yucca Mountain. Over 1000 tons of High Level Nuclear Waste is currently being stored at Calvert Cliffs, requiring hundreds of individual shipments. Every other nuclear power station in America also has many tons of nuclear waste stored dangerously outside the "containment dome."

One might recall (if you were me) that the Department of Energy told me -- when I mentioned the tunnel fire at a hearing on Yucca Mountain, and said "how are you going to guarantee that all those nuke transport vehicles won't get involved in something like that?" -- that they would be tracking all the other trains on all the other tracks that the nuke waste train would go near, so there could never be a combination of a nuke train and a fuel or hazardous / flammable waste train in a tunnel, on a bridge or overpass, or just simply passing each other at the same time. One would have to be very dense -- denser than D.U. -- to believe anything the D.O.E. tells you.

Today's fiery pileup in a California truck tunnel just points out, once again, that the nuke waste problem hasn't been solved. It won't be solved -- transporting waste will always be hazardous, risky, leaky, and foolhardy. But sooner or later, we're going to do it anyway, because the waste has to go somewhere. But transporting the waste won't be safe, and it won't be easy.

"Nuke waste transport routes cover hundreds of thousands of miles of old, dilapidated roadways. Bridges thought to be safe are collapsing around us, yet still the plan moves forward, as if there is no danger. As if the containers will be made magically strong enough to survive anything that can happen. It's a pipe-dream. It's terrorism. Domestic terrorism by our own government against our own citizens."

In today's fire, chunks of concrete and steel fell from the ceiling -- a container of nuke waste could be crushed and breached. Today's pileup happened just thirty miles from Los Angeles and closed one of the most important escape routes out of the city. Nuke waste transport routes cover hundreds of thousands of miles of old, dilapidated roadways. Bridges thought to be safe are collapsing around us, yet still the plan moves forward, as if there is no danger. As if the containers will be made magically strong enough to survive anything that can happen. It's a pipe-dream. It's terrorism. Domestic terrorism by our own government against our own citizens.

But what are our options? We can't leave the waste on the coasts, subject to tsunamis. We can't leave it near population centers. We can't leave it in earthquake zones. We can't just leave it be -- it must be monitored for hundreds of thousands of years. It will cost a bundle. The costs have not been factored in to the price you pay for nuclear-generated electricity, no matter what the nuclear industry claims to the contrary.

What about Yucca Mountain, I hear some naive pro-nukers cry! "That will solve our problem once and for all!"

No it won't. It won't even solve our problem once, let alone, for all time. Yucca Mountain probably will never be completed because 1) The people of Nevada have a say in their future, and they hate it. and 2) It's a scientific failure and a financial boondoggle, and 3) Even if built, it would only hold today's waste -- if that. It won't hold the waste the nuclear industry plans to make tomorrow.

Nuclear power is a crime against humanity. To call it anything less is an understatement. Nuclear power's supporters, with almost zero exceptions, all make a living, or made a living, from within the nuclear industry.

Nuclear reactors generate about 20,000 pounds -- 10 tons -- of high-level radioactive waste each day in America alone -- 100,000 pounds of new "HLRW" worldwide every day.

The day must come when this madness stops. Many pro-DNA people ("anti-nukers" is the term pro-nukers use, but we're really just "pro-DNA") believe that only a severe accident will stop the juggernaut. But humanity cannot wait for that -- the cost -- trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives -- would be too great to bear. It would bankrupt America, or any country it happens to.

Sanity -- stopping nuclear power entirely and immediately -- is the only choice.

That, or hell on earth. If you think a 15-truck fiery pileup in a truck tunnel in California, or a 5,000 degree fire in Baltimore, Maryland, or leaky containers along routes that pass within a few miles of 200 million Americans are bad things, then you need to protest not just "new" nuclear power, but "old" nuclear power, too. A closed reactor is much less vulnerable to terrorism, human error, environmental catastrophes, and aging ("embrittlement") accidents than an operating reactor, and perhaps most important, it's no longer generating new nuclear waste.

Nuclear power was a dream of cheap energy that failed miserably. It's time to put the nightmare to rest.

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

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