Yucca Mountain- Nuclear waste
Skull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation

PRESS STATEMENT
OHNGO GUADADEH DEVIA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Released on September 20, 2006


Skull Valley Goshute Reservation, Utah


“Nuclear Waste Dump No Longer Threatens Our Homeland; 
Private Fuel Storage Dump Defeated!”     
-- Skull Valley Goshute Reservation, Utah --

Recent new stories on the defeat of a nuclear waste dump on the Skull Valley Goshute Reservation have primarily highlighted the role the state of Utah played in stopping the radioactive spent fuel storage plan.  The battle over nuclear waste has been described as a battle between the state, on one side, and the tribe and Private Fuel Storage, a coalition of utilities, on the other. Yet, it is grassroots tribal members from Skull Valley who played the decisive role in defeating the plan, due to their tireless effort and their environmental justice and sovereignty platform. 

The grassroots platform is based on protecting the way of life, traditions and homeland of the Goshutes from the ecological and cultural threats posed by radioactive waste storage.  It is this platform that rallied a national coalition of Indigenous and environmental groups to support tribal members, and to which the Bureau of Indian Affairs referred in rejecting the waste dump.

“Fourteen years ago, Skull Valley Band Of Goshute members were told of plans to store high-level nuclear waste on our reservation land,” said Margene Bullcreek, founder of the grassroots Skull Valley group Ohngo Gaudadeh Devia (Shoshone word meaning ‘Timber Setting Committee.’)  “We were told how safe it was and how it would bring prosperity to our lives. It would have been easy to lose oneself in the vulnerability of the Band members who were groping for wealth as a way out of despair and reservation poverty. For those of us who respect our Devia, our homeland, wealth at the expense of our cultural traditions was never an option for us.”

“Sovereignty is the root of our lives as indigenous peoples, and it can't be bought, sold, or abused with greed and dishonesty when our traditional life is at stake. It gives me a great sense of being an Indigenous woman that Ohngo Gaudadeh Devia members not only spoke out against nuclear power and waste but also stood up for our cultural and traditional values and the protection of animal life, air, water, people and Mother Earth. And in the end, this stance was recognized by the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs,” adds Bullcreek.

In two separate decisions, the Bureau of Indian Affairs disapproved a Nuclear Regulatory Commission granted lease for Private Fuel Storage to use Skull Valley Goshute Indian reservation land, and the Bureau of Land Management refused to grant the rights of way needed to build transportation infrastructure to move tons of used nuclear fuel through the state to the storage site. The Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, as "trustee-delegate", issued his ultimate decision and ruling after a “complex task of weighing the long-term viability and preservation of the tribal culture of the Skull Valley Band of Goshute against the benefits and risks from such economic development activities”. In conclusion, Associate Deputy Interior Secretary James Cason wrote: "It is not consistent with the conduct expected of the prudent trustee to approve a proposed lease that promotes storing high level spent fuel on the reservation."

“While the decision is a victory for Margene, who has been fighting to protect her reservation for years now, it is somewhat disappointing that it took the BIA so long to reach this decision”, said Mark EchoHawk, an attorney representing Ohngo Gaudadeh Devia. “In December, 2002, we asked the BIA to withdraw its conditional approval for the PFS lease based on many of the points the BIA now relies on in its decision.  The BIA has been aware of the reasons which justify disapproval of the PFS lease for years now, but failed to act,” EchoHawk added.

“This was a precedent-setting and decision the Secretary of Interior made for the Skull Valley Band of Goshutes in that it recognizes our cultural perspective and lives as well as our sovereignty and the trust relationship between the federal government and our reservation community,” said Bullcreek.

Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network said the decision has national implications. “This decision by the Secretary is not only highly important for Goshute people,” he said,  “but also for all Indigenous peoples who face the same dilemma and who need protection against environmental injustice.”

For More Information:
Margene Bullcreek, Ohngo Gaudadeh Devia
mbullcreek@yahoo.com
435-831-6009
801-414-9543
Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network, ien@igc.org
218-751-4967




Urgent Alert: No Nuclear Waste in Utah!

April 19, 2006

Please help in the efforts to keep nuclear waste from being dumped in Utah! For more information on PFS proposed dump on the Skull Valley Goshute Reservation, see http://www.honorearth.org/initiatives/energy/nonrenewable/nuclear/PFS.html

We need to flood the U.S. Bureau of Land Management with comments opposing a request made by Private Fuel Storage for a right-of-way to haul high-level nuclear waste to the Skull Valley Goshute Reservation.

Quality is good, but Quantity is much more important at this point, so please forward this to your friends/family/colleagues and ask that they send in comments as well. Final comments are due by Monday May 8th. Feel free to send in or add to the following remarks. Send to am_schuller@blm.gov.

Miigwech! Honor the Earth http://www.honorearth.org

 

Urgent Alert: No Nuclear Waste in Utah! April 19, 2006

 

Please help in the efforts to keep nuclear waste from being dumped in Utah! For more�information�on PFS proposed dump on the Skull Valley Goshute Reservation, see http://www.honorearth.org/initiatives/energy/nonrenewable/nuclear/PFS.html

We need to flood the U.S. Bureau of Land Management with comments opposing a request made by Private Fuel Storage for a right-of-way to haul high-level nuclear waste to the Skull Valley Goshute Reservation.�

Quality is good, but Quantity is much more important at this point, so please forward this to your friends/family/colleagues and ask that they send in comments as well.�Final comments are due by Monday May 8th.

Feel free to send in or add to the following remarks.�Send to pam_schuller@blm.gov.

Miigwech! Honor the Earth http://www.honorearth.org

Pam Schuller U.S. Bureau of Land Management pam_schuller@blm.gov

Dear Ms. Schuller,

I respectfully request the BLM to deny a right-of-way for Private Fuel Storage (PFS) to transfer or haul high-level nuclear waste across public land to the Skull Valley Goshute Reservation.�

The proposed PFS project is inconsistent with BLM�s management plan; the project is not in the public�s interest; PFS is not qualified for receiving a permit for the project; and PFS lacks the technical and financial capabilities to carry out the project.

1.�Constructing a high-level nuclear waste transfer facility next to Interstate-80 creates a significant health and economic risk to the region if there were an accident or intentional act of sabotage.

2.�I, along with many others, am opposed to the transportation and storage of nuclear waste in Utah, so granting a right-of-way across public lands for those purposes is not in the public interest.

3.�Over half of the utility companies that created PFS have either dropped out of the consortium or have announced they will not give any more money to the project.�The Department of Energy has said it cannot contribute money to the project because it would violate federal law.�Thus, the financial capabilities to carry-out the project are in doubt, especially if there were an accident requiring significant funds to clean-up the site.

4.�Granting a right-of-way for the construction of a rail-line would undermine the recent designation of wilderness in this area, and therefore, the BLM should deny PFS�s request.

Thank you for your consideration of my comments.

PREVENT RADIOACTIVE RACISM
THAT HAS ITS ORIGINS IN LA CROSSE, WISCONSIN


Sign your group onto letter to Nuclear Regulatory Commission opposing high-level radioactive waste dump targeted at Skull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation in Utah by emailing person�s name, title (if any), group name, city and state to kevin@nirs.org as soon as possible. Please spread the word!

(INDIVIDUALS ARE ENCOURAGED TO SIGN ON TOO!)

Dear Friends and Colleagues in Wisconsin,

I�m writing you about an environmental justice matter that has taken on great urgency. Culminating an almost eight-year-long process, a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Licensing Board on February 24, 2005 ruled in favor of granting a license to the proposed Private Fuel Storage, LLC (PFS) high-level radioactive waste dump targeted at the Skull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation in Utah.

Opening of this dump would initiate the transportation 4,000 high-level radioactive waste casks by train across the U.S., putting millions of people in jeopardy of a Mobile Chernobyl from an accident or terrorist attack (to see how close such routes could pass by you, go to http://www.ewg.org/reports/nuclearwaste/find_address.php.) PFS would store 44,000 tons of irradiated nuclear fuel � nearly 80% of the commercial high-level radioactive waste that currently exists in the U.S. � on the tiny Goshute reservation. Nuclear waste that will travel through the City of La Crosse or down the rails of Vernon and Crawford County from Genoa Nuclear Power Plant.

The Skull Vally Goshute community is already surrounded by toxic industrial and military facilities, such as U.S. Army nerve gas incinerators and storage, the Dugway Proving Ground for chemical/biological/radiological weaponry, and the Hill Air Force Base/Utah Test and Training Range (the largest bombing range in the country), the single biggest emitter of gaseous chlorine in the U.S. (Magnesium Corporation on the Great Salt Lake), a �low� level radioactive waste dump, hazardous waste dumps and incinerators, etc. Adding high-level radioactive waste to this toxic mix is blatant environmental racism.� Margene Bullcreek, the leader of the opposition to the dump within the tribe, was quoted in the New York Times on Feb. 28 �We�re concerned with health, but it�s also the land we believe in. I think this could destroy whatever sacredness is there.�

According to Chris Peters of the Seventh Generation Fund in Arcata, CA, this very same dump, pushed by the U.S. nuclear establishment in government and industry since 1987, has been targeted at scores of tribes. All of them --� most often led by women tribal members (such as Grace Thorpe at Sauk and Fox Reservation in Oklahoma, and Rufina Marie Laws at Mescalero Apache Reservation in New Mexico) -- have fended off the proposed dumps, until now. None has gone as far as PFS targeted at the Skull Valley Goshutes Reservation. But it too can and must be stopped. (See http://www.nirs.org/factsheets/pfsejfactsheet.htm for more background information.)

It is important to note that there is a deep split within the Skull Valley Goshute community over the proposed dump. Opposing tribal councils within the community, one pro-dump and one anti-dump, are vying for control of tribal governance. The pro-dump tribal chairman, Leon Bear, retains recognition by such U.S. federal agencies as the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and NRC despite an intra-tribal dispute against his legitimacy dating back to 1994, and despite his pleading guilty recently to federal charges tax evasion. Anti-dump tribal members have recently filed a lawsuit against BIA and NRC to stop doing business with the disputed, pro-dump tribal chairman whose term of office, they allege, has expired. (See www.shundahai.org/skull_031005_1.htm for more information.) Anti-dump tribal members allege harassment and intimidation at the hands of the pro-dump tribal chairman. The wounds within the Skull Valley Goshute community run deep already, even before the first shipment of high-level radioactive waste has arrived, showing clearly that irradiated nuclear fuel is a social poison as much as it is radioactive and toxic. How NRC can justify granting a license to the largest �parking lot� dump for high-level radioactive waste on the planet (with all the attendant safety and security concerns), given the chaos in governance on the reservation, is difficult to understand. Suffice it to say that Skull Valley Goshute tribal opponents to the dump, along with other Native American environmental justice groups, are signed on at the very t op of the group letter.

A national, group sign-on letter (see www.nirs.org/radwaste/scullvalley/svgoshutesgrltr3142005.htm) for the text of the letter plus the current list of groups signed on), urging the NRC Commissioners to reject the PFS license application, was delivered on Monday, March 14 signed by 240 organizations (19 Native American groups, 21 national U.S. groups, 193 regional/state/local U.S. groups, and 7 international groups), whose combined memberships represent millions of people. As of now, nearly 400 groups have signed on. Please consider adding your group�s name. It�d be great to top 500 groups! The updated letter will soon be delivered to NRC, in advance to its imminent final decision on the PFS lease.

The following WI groups (pasted in at the bottom of this message) have already signed on (and we thank you for it! Please spread the word to others now that you�ve already signed on). It�s important that we have a lot of groups from WI on this letter, as PFS is a WI based company (Chairman John Parkyn comes from Dairyland Power�s Genoa nuclear reactor near LaCrosse, and in fact Dairyland is a PFS member utility). (John Parkyn is my neighbor--over the hill from my home near Stoddard)

Please consider signing your group on to this important solidarity letter, by sending your name, title (if any), organization, city and state to kevin@nirs.org as soon as possible. Please spread the word to other, kindred spirit groups which might also sign on. Thanks for your help!

---Kevin Kamps, Nuclear Information & Resource Service, Washington, D.C., 202.328.0002 ext. 14, kevin@nirs.org , www.nirs.org



From: Honor the Earth bbhonorearth@earthlink.net
Sent: Feb 25, 2005 12:49 PM


Urgent Alert!
NRC Says Yes to Nuclear Waste Dump on Native Land!

Dear Friend,

On February 24, 2005, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Licensing Board ruled in favor of granting a license to the proposed Private Fuel Storage (PFS) high-level radioactive waste dump on Goshute land in Utah.

We need your help in continuing opposition to this dump. Please sign on to the letter below and/or send in your own letter of opposition to this latest act of environmental injustice.

The opening of this dump would initiate the transportation of thousands of casks of high-level radioactive waste across the nation, putting millions of people in jeopardy of a Mobile Chernobyl from an accident or terrorist attack.

The letter below, urging the NRC Commissioners to reject the PFS license application, will be sent to the NRC Commissioners in early March. Please sign on to this letter, by sending your name, organization, city and state to kevin@nirs.org by 5 pm, Thursday, March 3.

Thanks for your support!

Miigwech, Honor the Earth Board, Staff & Volunteers
www.honorearth.org

Nuclear Information and Resource Service * Public Citizen * Shundahai Network

March, 2005

Re: Private Fuel Storage, LLC application for commercial irradiated nuclear fuel "interim" storage site at the Skull Valley Goshutes Indian Reservation in Utah

Dear Commissioners Diaz, Jaczko, Lyons, McGaffigan and Merrifield,

As national, regional, and local environmental and public interest organizations, we urge you not to approve the license application by Private Fuel Storage, LLC (PFS) to open an "interim storage site" for commercial irradiated nuclear fuel at the Skull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation in Utah.

The need for PFS is far from clear, given approvals for on-site dry cask storage at a growing number of reactors, and the fact that true consolidation of waste is not possible as long as nuclear utilities continue to produce it. The proposal is also plagued by many problems, and its location poses unacceptable risks. The facility has no contingency plan for faulty containers, the storage/transport containers are of questionable structural integrity, and there is an increasing risk that PFS could well become de facto permanent storage. The plan also raises serious transportation safety concerns, and is beset with environmental justice violations.

In short, the proposal is neither safe, sound, nor just.

Skull Valley is not an appropriate site for storing irradiated nuclear fuel. The adjacent complex of Hill Air Force Base and the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR) represents one of the biggest and busiest bombing ranges in the country, with thousands of over-flights annually posing the risk of accidental crashes into PFS. The stray missile which struck the scientific research station on the reservation in the 1990's, and the Genesis satellite crash into the UTTR last September, for instance, show the potential dangers of storing 44,000 tons of highly radioactive waste next to such active military facilities.

PFS also plans no pool or hot cell on-site, and thus would lack any waste repacking capability in the event of an emergency. If storage casks fail for any reason - human error during shipping or handling, natural disaster, accident, act of sabotage, faulty casks, or gradual corrosion - it would be difficult to adequately address the problem and prevent radioactivity from leaking into the soil, water, and air.

Oscar Shirani, former Commonwealth Edison/Exelon lead quality assurance inspector and nuclear safety whistleblower, has questioned the structural integrity of the Holtec casks proposed for PFS. He cites numerous major quality assurance violations in the manufacture of the storage/transport containers. Cask defects would not only raise the risk of irradiated fuel degradation and increased container vulnerability during storage at

Skull Valley, but also of a potentially catastrophic radioactivity release during transport due to a severe accident or terrorist attack.

As it is, PFS's transportation plan, or lack thereof, is very disconcerting. PFS would dramatically increase unnecessary transportation and handling of high-level waste. Despite PFS's assurances that it is only "interim" storage, its lack of waste repackaging contingencies and DOE's reluctance to accept PFS wastes at Yucca Mountain, as discussed below, all combine to raise the specter of irradiated nuclear fuel eventually being sent back thousands of miles to the reactors from which it originated. This would multiply the distances high-level waste is shipped, and escalate the risks of public and worker exposure, severe accidents, and terrorist attacks. It would also increase further stress and damage to the irradiated nuclear fuel, making future handling, transport, and long term isolation from the environment much more troublesome.

It is ironic that NRC would consider granting PFS an operating license, and thus permission to begin shipments, even before its Package Performance Study (PPS) is completed, a point raised by a number of our organizations during the public comment period on the PPS. Rushing the process, and using casks with only minimal testing and planning, is of concern to many communities along the transportation routes.

John Parkyn, PFS chairman and CEO, has publicly stated that PFS would train emergency responders along the routes to Skull Valley, however, PFS has not yet demonstrated the financial or technical capability to deliver on that promise. On February 7, at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fiscal Year 2006 budget unveiling, Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management director Margaret Chu stated that Nuclear Waste Policy Act section 180(c) funding to states for emergency response preparation would not even begin until five years before high-level radioactive waste shipments to Yucca Mountain. If the U.S. federal government requires such a long advance time, how could PFS privately provide such training before shipments would begin as early as 2007? Given the withdrawal from the PFS consortium by member companies such as American Electric Power/Indiana-Michigan Power, and the reduced investment by Southern California Edison, it is unlikely PFS could meet its basic commitments, let alone pay for emergency responder training and equipment all across the U.S.

The "interim" nature of the project is also questionable. Assurances have been given by PFS (and NRC staff in the proposal's Environmental Impact Statement) that irradiated fuel would remain at Skull Valley for no more than 40 years before transfer to Nevada for permanent burial. Last October, however, U.S. Energy Department Yucca Mountain Project transport director Gary Lanthrum told the Salt Lake Tribune that the Yucca Mountain Project would simply not accept irradiated nuclear fuel from PFS, as that would violate the terms of DOE's Standard Contract for Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel, which requires DOE to only accept uncanistered fuel directly from nuclear utilities at reactor sites. Since PFS would not meet these requirements, it could very well lead to de facto permanent "disposal" of 4,000 casks of high-level radioactive waste above ground in Skull Valley.

For NRC to approve PFS at this time by assuming that Yucca Mountain would take the wastes after 40 years contradicts Gary Lanthum's statement, and also suggests that NRC is predisposed to approve DOE's Yucca Mountain license application even before the proceedings have begun.

This is very troubling and ignores ongoing, serious uncertainties surrounding the Yucca Mountain Project's future. In addition, even if the Yucca Mountain repository does open, it is technically and legally limited to 63,000 metric tons of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel. DOE projects that the total amount of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel generated in the U.S. will double to over 105,000 metric tons in the decades to come. This means that even if Yucca Mountain opens, PFS could very well turn into the de facto permanent overflow zone for excess waste.

Finally, on its face, the storage or disposal of highly radioactive waste on a tiny, poverty-stricken Native American community that did not even benefit from the nuclear generated electricity also raises significant environmental justice concerns. The existing leadership crisis at Skull Valley only exacerbates such concerns. There is a long-running dispute over the legitimacy of the tribal leadership that supports PFS. The disputed Tribal Chairman, Leon Bear -- the primary proponent for PFS -- has been indicted on federal charges of embezzlement of tribal funds as well as tax evasion. Tribal members who oppose PFS claim they have been severely intimidated and harassed, and allege that irregularities such as bribery and extortion have been used to secure support for PFS within the tribe.

These are very shaky foundations upon which to build dry cask storage for 44,000 tons of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel, nearly 80% of what currently exists in the U.S. The Skull Valley Goshute Indian community seems to have suffered significantly from the PFS proposal long before the first shipment of irradiated nuclear fuel has even arrived.

We urge you to deny the PFS license request. Storing irradiated nuclear fuel at the Skull Valley Goshute Reservation is not a safe, sound, nor just solution to our country's high-level radioactive waste problem.

Sincerely,

Michael Mariotte, Executive Director, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Washington, D.C.

Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program, Washington, D.C.

Pete Litster, Executive Director, The Shundahai Network, Salt Lake City, Utah


Honor the Earth - Urgent Alert -
No Nuclear Waste on Goshute Lands in Utah!

Feb. 2005

Dear Friend,

A Nuclear Regulatory Commission Licensing Board is expected to issue its final rulings on the proposed Private Fuel Storage (PFS) "interim storage site" for a huge high-level radioactive waste dump targeted at the tiny Skull Valley Goshutes Indian Reservation in Utah.

No matter how the Board decides, the issue likely will be appealed to the NRC Commissioners. Contact them today and urge them to disapprove this environmentally racist dump that would launch 4,000 Mobile Chernobyls onto the rails as soon as 2007! Call them at the following numbers and urge them to reject PFS's license application, or write them directly (simply by signing and sending in the sample letter that follows, or compose your own letter using information from www.nirs.org or www.honorearth.org).

We thank you for your support and for taking action to protect Native lands.

Miigwech,

Honor the Earth Staff, Board of Advisors & Volunteers
NRC Chairman Nils J. Diaz, 301.415.1759
NRC Commissioner Edward McGaffigan, Jr., 301.415.1800
NRC Commissioner Jeffrey S. Merrified, 301.415.1855
NRC Commissioner Gregory B. Jaczko, 301.415.1820
NRC Commissioner Peter B. Lyons nominee 301.415.8421

 

SAMPLE LETTER TO NRC COMMISSIONERS

Either fax your letter to 301.415.1101, email it to SECY@nrc.gov, or mail it to the address in the sample letter below:

Jan. 26, 2005

Nils Diaz, Chairman
Edward McGaffigan, Jeffrey Merrifield, Gregory Jaczko, Peter Lyons, Commissioners
c/o Annette L. Vietti-Cook, Secretary of the Commission
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, D.C. 20555-0001

Dear Commissioners Diaz, McGaffigan, Merrifield, Jaczko, and Lyons,

I urge you to disapprove the license application by Private Fuel Storage, LLC (PFS) to open an "interim storage site" for irradiated nuclear fuel at the Skull Valley Goshutes Indian Reservation in Utah. On its face, the storage or disposal of highly radioactive waste on a tiny, poverty-stricken Native American community that did not even benefit from the nuclear generated electricity raises significant environmental justice concerns. But the crisis at Skull Valley exacerbates such concerns. There is a long-running dispute over the legitimacy of the tribal leadership that supports PFS. In fact, disputed Tribal Chairman Leon Bear, the primary proponent for PFS, has been indicted on federal charges of embezzlement of tribal funds as well as tax evasion. Tribal members who oppose PFS claim they have been severely intimidated and harassed, and allege irregularities such as bribery and extortion have been used to secure support within the tribe for PFS. These are very shaky foundations upon which to build dry cask storage for 44,000 tons of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel, nearly 80% of what currently exists in the U.S.

Last October, U.S. Energy Dept. Yucca Mountain Project transport director Gary Lanthrum was quoted in the Salt Lake press as saying that the Yucca Mountain Project would simply not accept irradiated nuclear fuel from PFS, as that would violate the terms of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act which requires DOE to accept only freshly packaged fuel directly from nuclear utilities at reactor sites. PFS would lack the capability to perform such repackaging. This DOE statement contradicts assurances by PFS (and NRC staff in the proposal's Environmental Impact Statement) that irradiated fuel would remain at Skull Valley for no more than 40 years before transfer to Nevada for permanent burial. Thus, PFS could very well lead to de facto permanent "disposal" of 4,000 casks of high-level radioactive waste, out in the open, exposed to the elements, and vulnerable to accidental crashes of military aircraft from the U.S. Air Force bombing range next door. The Genesis satellite crash into the Utah Test and Training Range last September should be proof enough that accidents do happen.

Lastly, I am concerned by allegations raised by ComEd/Exelon whistleblower Oscar Shirani. Citing numerous major quality assurance violations in the manufacture of the storage/transport containers proposed for use at PFS, he questions their structural integrity. This not only raises the risk of irradiated fuel degradation and increased container vulnerability during storage at Skull Valley, but also of potentially catastrophic radioactivity release during transport due to a severe accident or terrorist attack.

Please deny PFS's license request. The Skull Valley Goshute Reservation is neither a safe nor just solution!

Sincerely,

Your Name, Address, City, State, and Zip Code

Copy and paste into an email or printout a hardcopy in .doc or .pdf format
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2002
PRINTABLE VERSION

OPPOSE the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Dump

The site is unsuitable for a high-level waste repository.

  • 33 earthquake faults crisscross the area; the rock is fractured by seismic activity.
  • The repository would sit atop an aquifer that is a current source of drinking water.
  • DOE’s repository design relies mainly on underground storage containers to isolate the waste.
  • The waste’s dangerous radioactivity will outlast the storage containers, and eventually contaminate the surrounding environment.
  • The Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board says, “the technical basis for the DOE’s repository performance estimates is weak to moderate” (1/24/02).

The risks of transporting high-level nuclear waste cannot be justified.

  • More than 50,000 – and up to 100,000 - shipments of radioactive waste would pass through 44 states and the District of Columbia by truck, train, and barge.
  • This unprecedented nuclear shipping campaign would introduce new risks to major urban centers along shipment routes.
  • Emergency response and public health infrastructure along shipping routes is ill-equipped to effectively respond to a nuclear accident.
  • Currently licensed nuclear waste shipping casks have never been physically tested; limited physical tests performed in ‘70s on now-obsolete casks have not been repeated.
  • License requirements dangerously underestimate accident conditions on the roads & rails.

The integrity of the process has been compromised.

  • Safety and environmental regulations have been undermined, setting a dangerous precedent.
  • DOE’s Inspector General has reported on apparent conflict of interest involving Yucca Mountain contractors with direct ties to the nuclear industry (November 2001).
  • The General Accounting Office has suggested that DOE’s site recommendation is premature, given 293 technical issues requiring further study and analysis (December 2001).
  • Nuclear industry campaign contributions and lobbyists likely influenced key decision-makers in the Yucca Mountain process.

A Yucca Mountain Repository won’t solve the nuclear waste problem.

  • Waste generated by commercial power reactors alone will exceed legislative limits on repository capacity (70,000 metric tons); excess waste would continue to be stored onsite for the foreseeable future.
  • Irradiated fuel must be stored onsite, in pools, for at least 5 years before being transported.
  • The process of licensing, constructing, and transporting waste to the proposed repository would take at least 3-4 decades and does not address immediate security or storage capacity concerns at reactors.
  • DOE has a legacy of project mismanagement, leaking storage facilities, cost overruns, and behind-schedule clean-up operations, and appears to be repeating past mistakes. Yucca Mountain risks becoming an additional site on the map of DOE nuclear contamination.

Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy & Environment Program:
www.citizen.org/cmep
; (202) 454-5130


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