By Kay Combow
Alert! Comment by July 20, 2020!
Keep radioactive wastes out of our municipal landfills! Learn more! See the latest issue of CACC News by clicking here.
Also: the non-profit group Nuclear Information and Resource Service has a site where you can comment to the NRC and cc your federal legislators: https://tinyurl.com/noderegulation
While our communities face daunting and unprecedented challenges with Covid-19, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is attempting to sneak in an “interpretive rule” to allow large amounts of nuclear waste to be renamed. These renamed wastes could then be transported to municipal or hazardous waste landfills that need not be licensed for radioactive waste, if they are declared “exempt” facilities, with an “intent” (but no guarantee) to bury these dangerous wastes.
There is no clear definition for these wastes (that would be renamed VLLW or “Very Low-Level Waste”), and the NRC states that this interpretive rule is not legally binding, so could be implemented without public notice. Tellingly, the NRC’s 2018 VLLW Scoping Study directly tied the need for this deceptive category to “…the disposal of the anticipated large volumes…associated with the decommissioning of nuclear power plants and material sites, as well as wastes that might be generated by alternative waste streams that may be created by operating reprocessing facilities or a radiological event.”
All landfills leak. Municipal landfills (or other facilities not licensed for radioactive wastes) have little or no provision for equipment, personnel, training or long-term monitoring to protect the health of workers, our communities or the environment from damage and long-term contamination from radioactive wastes – especially from industrial sources, such as: nuclear reactors, nuclear reprocessing (an environmental, health, security and financial disaster the last time it was attempted in the U.S.) and hydraulic fracking. If a facility is “specifically exempted” and so is eligible to take these radioactive wastes, there is no provision for public notice or input, nor for monitoring, enforcement or verification. Some radioactive wastes last hundreds of thousands of years or longer and can cause serious health effects, including birth defects and heart problems. Health impacts for women and children are disproportionately greater.
This is a dangerous scheme to release these wastes from radioactive controls and would transfer liability and expense of isolating these most dangerous wastes, from the nuclear power industry to the American public. This plan would spread radioactive contamination nationwide, without the American people’s consent or awareness. Tell the NRC that American people do not accept their flawed plan and, if they decide to push it through anyway, that this is a major NRC policy change that could impact every U.S. community and merits no less than a full programmatic environmental impact statement with public hearings and that each site must have a site-specific environmental impact statement.
The nuclear industry and its regulators have tried over a dozen times to openly deregulate nuclear waste, so as to avoid the true costs of nuclear energy. The American people have stopped it, repeatedly.
Spread the word in your communities. Email official comments, with reference to Docket ID NRC-2020-0065 by 11:59PM Eastern time, July 20th, to VLLWTransferComments.Resource@nrc.gov . Learn more! Email Diane D’Arrigo: dianedatnirs.org . Diane is the Nuclear Waste Project Director at Nuclear Information and Resource Service – www.nirs.org .