PROTEST INTERNATIONAL NUCLEAR WASTE TO NEW MEXICO!
by Leo Leonardo
Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008 at 11:40 AM
New Mexico is slated as an international waste dump. Condemned by health and environmental groups across the country, the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership means foreign nuclear waste imported and "reprocessed" in the USA. 4 public hearings by the DOE are scheduled in state. We need a big outcry! New Mexico cannot accept international waste!!!!
GNEP MEANS INTERNATIONAL NUCLEAR WASTE DUMPED HERE
In the dying throes of the Bush administration, one last environmental disaster is being foisted on the public. With GNEP, Hobbs and Roswell would get a lot more nuclear waste (both from within and outside the country) and a dirty nuclear waste ‘reprocessing’ plant, greenwashed as a “nuclear fuel recycling center”! Los Alamos could get an ‘advanced fuel cycle research facility.’ Can New Mexico afford to pollute its water? The Department of Energy (DOE) is holding 4 public hearings in New Mexico in towns near sites involved with these very dirty and toxic proposals.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Attend a meeting near you and let DOE know a lot of people do not want GNEP.
NEW MEXICO GNEP HEARINGS SCHEDULE
MONDAY, November 17 7 PM Lea County Event Center 5101 North Lovington-Hobbs Hwy, HOBBS, New Mexico 88240
TUESDAY, November 18 7 PM Pecos River Village Conference Center, Carousel House, 711 Muscatel Avenue, CARLSBAD, New Mexico 88220
TUESDAY, November 18 7 PM Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell, Occupational Technology Center, Seminar Room 124, 20 West Mathis, ROSWELL, New Mexico 88130
ThURSDAY, November 20 7 PM Hilltop House Best Western, 400 Trinity Drive (at Central), LOS ALAMOS, New Mexico 87544
Comment by mail, letters due before December 16. Mail letters to:
Francis Schwartz, GNEP PEIS Document Manager
Office of Nuclear Energy, NE-5, DOE
1000 Independence Ave. S.W.
Washington, DC 20585.
Comment online http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocumentDetail&o=0900006480744445 click on link, then click on the yellow button next to Add Comments
And write your congressional delegation.
Acquaint yourself with GNEP in Wikipedia http://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/GNEP
Or the 81 page DOE GNEP SUMMARY http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocumentDetail&o=0900006480744445
Or the full 960 page DOE GNEP DOCUMENT http://www.gnep.energy.gov/pdfs/GNEP_PEIS.pdf
Or read article below (recommended) Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, 2008 http://www.ananuclear.org/Portals/0/documents/Fact%20Sheets/GNEP%20FS%202007.pdf
TALKING POINTS AT THE END OF THIS POST
GLOBAL NUCLEAR ENERGY PARTNERSHIP: ENVIRONMENTAL, ECONOMIC, AND SECURITY RISKS
The Department of Energy (DOE) has asked Congress for $302 million in fiscal year 2009 for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), which it also calls the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative (AFCI). GNEP is a Bush Administration scheme to revive the dangerous practice of reprocessing irradiated nuclear fuel. GNEP would endanger the environment, encourage nuclear bomb-making, squander U.S. taxpayer dollars, and deepen the nuclear waste problem.
Under the GNEP plan, some countries would supply and fuel nuclear reactors for other, as-yet-unnamed countries that would agree to forgo uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing. Once the fuel rods were irradiated, they would be sent back to the suppliers for eventual reprocessing.
Reprocessing is the fundamental link between a nuclear reactor and a plutonium bomb. Irradiated, or “spent,” fuel is separated into its constituent ingredients, usually using acid. One of the ingredients, plutonium, can be used to make new reactor fuel—or nuclear bombs. Since separated plutonium encourages nuclear weapons proliferation, President Ford halted the export of reprocessing technologies. President Carter outlawed U.S. commercial reprocessing in 1976.
Although the domestic ban was lifted more than 20 years ago, reprocessing is so expensive that the U.S. nuclear power industry has not resumed it. While the French reprocessing program of the state-owned company Areva is often presented as an example to follow, its financing is totally dependent on state support and by forcing a reluctant utility to accept plutonium fuel.
GNEP INCREASES CONTAMINATION
Reprocessing (SLATED FOR NEW MEXICO) produces large amounts of very dangerous waste that is intensely radioactive, toxic, thermally hot, and difficult to contain. The tanks used to store this liquid high-level waste must be cooled requiring water, hence more water pollution, or the waste will explode. In 1957, one such tank exploded in Russia, contaminating 6,000 square miles. Liquid high-level waste from Cold War reprocessing presents the greatest contamination threat and cleanup challenge in the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. At Hanford, Washington; Savannah River Site, South Carolina; and the Idaho National Laboratory, millions of gallons of liquid waste sit in aging “tank farms,” all of which have leaked, threatening crucial water resources.
GNEP ENCOURAGES NUCLEAR BOMB-MAKING
GNEP proponents claim it is a way to control nuclear materials proliferation, but the opposite is true. Irradiated fuel that has not been reprocessed is “self protecting” because the fuel is heavy, bulky, and intensely radioactive. But separated plutonium is a concentrated powder, and less than 20 pounds are required to make a bomb. Loss or theft of this dangerous material is hard to guard against in the complex plutonium separation factories because it is very difficult to track plutonium through each step of the process.
One GNEP plan is to “burn” reprocessed plutonium in “fast” reactors, which are prone to accidents and cost up to half again as much as most of the reactors used for electricity in the U.S. today. Worldwide, fewer than 20 fast reactors have produced electricity. Use of fast reactors and reprocessing only adds to the current worldwide surplus of separated, weapons-usable plutonium, which already stands at 250 tons – enough to make approximately 30,000 nuclear bombs.
GNEP WASTES BILLIONS OF DOLLARS
DOE has not provided a total cost estimate for GNEP, but in 1996, the National Academy of Sciences estimated that reprocessing the current U.S. spent fuel inventory could easily add $100 billion to our nuclear tab. Each of the new fast reactors would cost several billion more.
Approximately $150 billion more will be needed to bring some level of cleanup to the three U.S. weapons sites and the commercial site in West Valley, NY, that previously reprocessed spent fuel. These are all costs the taxpayer–not the nuclear power industry–bears.
CANNOT SOLVE U.S. NUCLEAR WASTE PROBLEM
As its efforts to open a spent fuel and high-level waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, are clearly failing, DOE is trying to paint GNEP as a
“recycling” solution. But reprocessing spent fuel does not conserve resources or reduce waste. If spent fuel is reprocessed once, as it is in France, it does not appreciably reduce the space needed in a deep geologic repository. At the same time, it produces other radioactive wastes that remain hazardous for thousands of years. Even if spent fuel would be repeatedly reprocessed and burned in dangerous fast reactors, there would still be waste that requires geologic disposal.
DOE says more than 20 other countries are interested in participating in GNEP, though no binding agreements have been reached. The Bush administration plans to make GNEP decisions in 2008, even though Congress has not authorized the program and, in the FY 2008 Omnibus Appropriation, specifically prohibited using any funds “for facility construction for technology demonstration of commercialization.”
DOE’s plan goes directly against the 2007 recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences, which is sharply critical of the program on nearly every front.
Another provision of the FY 2009 Budget Request would extend the $18.5 billion in loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants currently appropriated through September 30, 2009 for two more years. Congress has already provided about a billion dollars in production tax credits, up to $2 billion in risk insurance for new nuclear power plants, and billions more for nuclear reactor licensing and new technologies.
The loan guarantees to new nuclear plants, which could not operate until 2015, should not be extended to provide even further subsidies. Instead, any federal loan guarantees should be for renewable energy and efficiency programs that produce and save energy in the next few years.
• Transfer the $302 million FY 2009 Budget Request for the GNEP/AFCI programs to DOE’s waste cleanup program.
• Do not extend the $18.5 billion in nuclear power loan guarantees
THE GNEP ISSUE
Two years ago, the Department of Energy (DOE) received millions to do an environmental impact study as regards this Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) idea across the United States. Now, DOE is holding meetings at towns near sites across America until December 9, when the last hearing is held in Washington DC, to present the GNEP plan to the affected sites for public comment. Hearings are to be held at Hobbs, New Mexico, Carlsbad, New Mexico, Roswell, New Mexico, Los Alamos, New Mexico, Pasco, Washington, Hood River, Oregon, Paducah, Kentucky, Idaho Falls, Idaho, Piketon, Ohio, Bolingbrook, Illinois, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Granville, South Carolina. All those places would be directly affected by the GNEP proposal, whether they are the storage sites of a lot more waste trucked in or the ‘reprocessing’ sites of nuclear waste or the site of an advanced recycling reactor or research site. Reprocessing uranium is a very dirty process generating a lot more nuclear waste. And for what? The plan is more nuclear reactors nationally and internationally. The corporate plan is to grow the nuclear industry across the board.
Hobbs and Roswell, New Mexico are being considered as sites to receive large additional amounts of nuclear waste from within and outside of the USA which same toxic waste is then supposed to be 'reprocessed' onsite. Reprocessing nuclear waste to yield fuel for new reactors is greenwashed as 'recycling.' The DOE wants to do something about the accumulation of nuclear waste from the USA's rapidly aging nuclear power plants and munitions making sites currently stored onsite at many locations. DOE has been very expensively fighting legal battles for decades over this issue. Additionally, all this waste all over America has people angry, (the 'political logjam') and much less likely to agree to building more nuclear power plants.
Lyman and Von Hippel in an article Reprocessing Revisited: The International Dimensions of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2008_04/LymanVonHippel offer the following explanation:
"In a February 2008 speech, Dennis Spurgeon, assistant secretary of energy for nuclear energy, argued that 'closing the fuel cycle is essential for expansion of nuclear power in the U.S. and around the world.' This assertion is highly questionable because reprocessing is 10 times more costly than spent fuel storage. If nuclear power is to become more widely competitive, its cost must decrease, not increase. Spurgeon’s view, however, reflects the belief of GNEP supporters in the need to bypass the political logjams that block permanent spent fuel storage, which they see as a chief impediment to a major global increase in nuclear power. In the absence of geological repositories, reprocessing plants provide an alternative destination for the spent fuel accumulating at nuclear power plants.
This change in the U.S. attitude toward reprocessing is at odds with the welcome, recent global trend of countries abandoning reprocessing because it is costly, and complicates waste disposal rather than facilitating it. The net result of even a partial success of the Bush administration’s policy would be a reversal in the decline in the number of countries with stockpiles of separated plutonium, thereby undermining the nonproliferation regime. Hopefully, Congress and the next administration will try to reverse the damage done by the Bush administration’s ill-considered promotion of reprocessing...."
Meanwhile, American are being distracted from demanding clean-up of our existing nuclear waste sites by having to fight this new onslaught of pathological science originating with an international group of nuclear corporations eager to build more plants, as well as re-processing plants, whose only goal is the bottom line.
International corporations are partnering up, delighted that Bush gave them an in—the GNEP—to further milk the American taxpayer. The DOE pays for the clean-up with your tax dollars, now going on hundreds of billions nationally, and fifty years of Cold War toxins still not safely stored, leaking into the Columbia River, blowing away with the dust at many sites across the Southwest.
Nuclear energy is heavily subsidized, as is the building of power plants, and the building of potential 'reprocessing plants.' That particular cash cow has gotten a lot thinner this year, but that will not stop the corporate lobbying. Likely local workers eager for jobs will be flocking to their DOE meeting highly supportive of GNEP. But the people of America, even the world, should not have long term nuclear waste pollution forced on them by people with a clear short term vested financial interest in the GNEP outcome.
Why is the DOE considering adding further to the waste burden in the United States, focusing efforts and money away from the clean-up which is again this year delayed because of insufficient funds?
Lyman and Van Hippel suggest the answer is that as long as waste is stored all over the country, there will be big opposition to more nuclear power plants. But consolidate the waste to a few sites for "reprocessing," and you can build more power plants with less local opposition. Yucca Mountain in Nevada, the underground storage facility which was to hold all this accumulated waste (factually it could hold only about half the national waste anyway) may not open. Hence, an urgency felt by DOE to do something.
Comes now Bush's GNEP and the nuclear corporate lobby, an international clutch of companies including USA corporations. The United States has suddenly been reinvented as a “supplier nation” meaning that it will take in nuclear waste from abroad and “process” same to be exported as fresh fuel, making lots more waste.
The global warming crisis has everyone searching for carbon free energy, and nuclear is being touted suddenly as 'clean,' giving the nuclear menace a chance to rise again like a phoenix out of the ashes. Corporate marketing along with the DOE gleefully under-educates the public with the half truth of nuclear energy's ‘low carbon footprint!’ Never mind that these processes pollute soil, air, and water for millennia so that the land is no longer usable by humans.
Reprocessing just spreads the waste around more! Quote from Oregon Senator Ron Wyden's office, "Nuclear waste is like King Midas on steroids. Everything it touches makes more waste."
The USA needs real clean-up technology, not smearing the nuclear waste around. No dirty and dangerous reprocessing. And why build more nuclear bombs? The US already has thousands and their uranium bomb pits do not wear out with aging. We are awash in plutonium. Hanford Nuclear Reservation spends millions each year just guarding one metric ton of plutonium from terrorists. Why break that down into smaller units more easily accessed by terrorists?
It makes absolutely no sense for New Mexico to have dangerous fast nuclear reactor (more proposals under GNEP). The whole Southwest has plenty of solar. Why take money and focus from developing a non toxic potential? Phase out nuclear altogether and subsidize solar and wind at the current rate of nuclear energy. Immediately promote more environmentally sound machinery including cars and environmentally sound energy.
DOE and national policy should review the ramifications of quick fix energy solutions thrown into the breach of global warming hysteria. (Another example of bad science contributing to hunger and environmental degradation worldwide and a complete boondoggle benefitting chemical corporations is ethanol in your gas tank! Ethanol is energy in-effective. http://petroleum.berkeley.edu/papers/Biofuels/MyBiofuelPapersTop.htm )
Does anyone want nuclear waste trucking down the highways at the volume potential in this plan? Or foreign nuclear waste coming into some mega port in Mexico only to be dumped in our state across the border! Or getting into the air as a result of reprocessing? Or getting into the hands of terrorists en route?
Does the UNITED States need more nuclear bomb pits? Do bomb pits EVER wear out? And what about those depleted uranium weapons used in our wars? The environmental pollution wrought by the USA's production of depleted uranium weapons here at home and their explosion in other countries is tremendous. Depleted uranium weapons means genocide on civilians. The leukemia count spikes in countries where the US army uses depleted uranium weapons to blow up tanks.
And finally, water. Is there enough water to cool this kind of massive international nuclear waste “reprocessing” under this GNEP scheme? Can New Mexico afford to poison its water?
Some Talking Points……
First, from the Union of Concerned Scientists
Risk of Nuclear Terrorism/Proliferation: Reprocessing separates plutonium and uranium from other nuclear waste contained in spent nuclear fuel. The separated plutonium can be used to fuel reactors, but also can be used in nuclear weapons and therefore poses a major risk of nuclear terrorism. Less than 20 pounds of plutonium is needed to make a nuclear weapon. The current U.S. practice of maintaining plutonium in large, heavy, and highly radioactive spent fuel assemblies makes it nearly impossible to steal. Reprocessing would change that. A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report specifically noted that advanced technologies for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel would pose a “greater risk of proliferation in comparison with direct disposal” in underground storage. However, the DOE has not yet made public the GNEP Nonproliferation Assessment that it has prepared. The public should insist that the DOE issue the Nonproliferation Assessment for public comment before making a “record of decision” to proceed with GNEP.
Nuclear Waste Issue Not Remedied: The GNEP plan for reprocessing is not necessary to support nuclear power expansion and, in fact, would be counterproductive by saddling nuclear power with additional costs and risks. Reprocessing will not reduce the volume of nuclear waste generated and will not eliminate the need for a long-term underground storage solution. The nuclear power industry has been unwilling to invest private funding to support reprocessing. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) believes that spent nuclear fuel can instead be safely stored in dry casks at existing reactor sites for decades. Indeed, reprocessing will require significantly more disposal capacity for low-level radioactive waste according to the draft PEIS.
Taxpayers and Ratepayers Will Spend Billions of Dollars: According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in 1996, the total cost of a reprocessing and fast reactor program could be more than $700 billion (in 2007 dollars). A more recent estimate from a government scientist found the cost associated with building and operating a plant capable of reprocessing all the spent fuel generated by the current U.S. reactor fleet would be $3 billion to $4.5 billion per year. Due to the drawbacks to reprocessing, Congress has significantly reduced the administration’s funding requests over the last two years, which has led the DOE to abandon its initial plans to build a number of reprocessing facilities throughout the country. However, hundreds of millions have already been poured into the program and several sites around the country, including Roswell and Hobbs in New Mexico and Hanford in Washington, have conducted preliminary feasibility studies for hosting reprocessing plants and other GNEP facilities. If reprocessing goes forward, only sites that have already been studied will be considered for new facility construction.
1. The American taxpayer whose dollar heavily subsidizes nuclear energy projects of all kinds pays out the nose. Not even factoring in the cost of down-the-line clean-up, nuclear energy is highly cost in-effective. Clean-up efforts as a result of GNEP are paid for by your tax dollars long after the power from those projects was used. We need consumer rate relief!
2. Nuclear subsidy dollars should be diverted to safer forms of energy
3. New nuclear plants which are slated to be using all this 'reprocessed' fuel under GNEP require water for cooling. Can we risk the earth’s clean water?
4. This plan includes importing nuclear waste from other countries. We still haven’t cleaned up the Cold War waste fifty years later. Radionuclides from waste are spreading around (wind, water, biosphere) and affecting public health.
5. ‘Reprocessing’ is much dirtier and more dangerous than leaving the waste onsite. Nuclear waste is safer stored in situ until we can figure out a truly sound technology for dealing with it.
6. Nuclear waste will be trucked down our highways….down many highways in the Americas likely since no American port will want this mess...
7. GNEP could involve importing waste from other countries. Do we want foreign nuclear waste barged up the Columbia River, going through the locks, and up the dams? Do we want to pollute the USA even further? Do we want mega ports in Mexico to take nuclear waste in and then truck it up some potential Trans American highway? Do we want to pollute Mexico and sicken Mexican dock workers who would end up handling toxic waste from Europe and Asia? Do we want large amounts of nuclear waste shipped via the oceans back and forth?
8. Encourage cleaner energy like solar and wind. Nuclear is not ‘clean.’
9. Large corporations should not determine environmental health. The government has to step in with laws and to hold corporations accountable. Why were corporations never charged for the mess they created at Hanford? Why is the government protecting nuclear corporations from prosecution? The burden of proof as regards products and corporate accountability is too great in the USA, deliberately kept that way to cater to corporate interests.
10. Selling nuclear plants to India, approved by Congress this year, and to China as approved under the Clinton administration, was a terrible step for the world environment. These countries and their people will ultimately suffer because of this step backwards, instead of adopting solar and wind energy.
11. French company, Areva, is building an uranium enrichment plant 18 miles west of Idaho Falls. Why? What do we need enriched uranium for? Areva is also building a MOX plant at Savannah River. Areva, formerly Cogema, has a terrible history of safety violations. Why should a French company pollute our country? Don’t we have enough American corporations to pollute America already? Why should the American taxpayer enrich the French and pay for polluting projects? Get Areva out of America.
12. Nuclear energy will hinder reliable, sustainable energy policies worldwide. Under the GNEP, countries like Turkey (the “breadbasket” of the region with plenty of sun for solar (!) and earthquakes) would be considered as a supplier country meaning that it would be forced to “to supply nuclear fuel to receiver states in exchange for a reliable and affordable nuclear fuel supply.” Instead of simply converting to solar country-wide. Turkey would have to buy energy from nuclear power plants in other countries. From: http://www.psr.orgsitePageServer?pagename=Analysis_Turkey&printer_friendly=1
13. Physicians for Social Responsibility is highly critical of GNEP. “GNEP will …worsen the radioactive waste disposal problem and…make the United States the dumping ground for nuclear wastes from the other participating nations. If nuclear power growth is tripled to mitigate global warming, the “take back” policy of GNEP would mean that the U.S. could import enough reactor spent fuel to fill more than a dozen Yucca Mountain, Nevada repositories. Under the administration’s plan, highly radioactive strontium-90 and cesium-137 would be separated for near surface disposal after 300 years – resulting in the largest source of high-heat radioactivity in the United States and possibly the world.”
14. Global warming and weather changes make all nuclear sites vulnerable (precluding the building of more nuclear plants) to forces of nature such as earthquakes, fire, and floods. In the last ten years, major fires at Hanford and Los Alamos released radionuclides into the air and cost taxpayers hundreds of millions to fight.
15. Funding for GNEP projects is very unclear. Projects may be uninsurable against accidents, according to Warren Buffett.
16. The National Academy of Sciences is sharply critical of DOE’s plan on nearly every front. See: http://www.nationalacademies.org/morenews
17. Nuclear industry workers have a short term vested financial interest and should not be allowed to decide issues of long term environmental pollution affecting the health of millions, generations down the line, and downriver.
18. Even in this awful economy, can we really let the prospect of nuclear related jobs should determine policies affecting vast long-term nuclear pollution?
Scrap the entire GNEP set of proposals.
Link to an interactive map that lets you track nuclear site safety in the USA