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Posts Tagged ‘nuclear waste’

Earlier this week, NPR reported on the anticipated arrival of nearly 1,000 tons of nuclear waste from Germany at Oak Ridge, TN. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a plan in June for an American company to import and burn low-level nuclear waste from Germany.  The radioactive residue left over from the process will be sent back to Germany for disposal.  That’s a lot of travel for waste, and Germany isn’t the only country looking for means of disposing of its radioactive waste.

Located just outside Knoxville, Oak Ridge was created from scratch in 1942 to help build the atomic bomb and has become a world-renowned center for nuclear research. Operations there generate a great deal of radioactive waste and some of that waste ends up at EnergySolutions’ Bear Creek incinerator plant in Oak Ridge.

With the recent permitting of WCS in Texas, there are now four low-level waste facilities in the U.S, Barnwell in South Carolina, Richland in Washington, and Clive in Utah are the others. The Barnwell and the Clive locations are operated by EnergySolutions, the Richland location is operated by U.S. Ecology and the Texas site is operated by Waste Control Specialists.  WCS, Barnwell and Richland accept Classes A through C of low-level waste, whereas Clive only accepts Class A. The Department of Energy (DOE) also has dozens of LLW sites under management which includes the Bear Creek incinerator.

When you start to talking about managing the rest of the world’s waste, the German waste looks like the beginning of what could be a large flood of material from other countries.  And given the blank check the Texas legislature handed WCS this past legislative session, you can bet they will be back at the table trying to get a piece of that operation.  Let’s hope the Texas legislature stands firm in their resolve to not accept foreign radioactive waste, ‘cause there is a lot of it that could come our way.

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Facilities that process large quantities of radioactive material have the potential for significant environmental contamination due to the scale of their operations. Over time, leaks from these facilities can lead to significant radioactive contamination of the subsurface soil and groundwater.  In addition, the high costs of disposing of radioactive material off-site may lead these facilities to store more waste on site, increasing the potential for subsurface radioactive contamination and significantly higher decommissioning costs.

Currently these facilities are required to perform surveys to verify that radioactive releases are below regulatory requirements and do not pose public health hazards.  However, the NRC believes that existing regulations were not clear enough concerning subsurface contamination.

A new Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) rule would now require these facilities to minimize the introduction of residual radioactivity at their sites during operations. It also requires reporting of additional details about a facilities cost estimates for decommissioning and tightens NRC control over certain financial instruments set aside to cover eventual decommissioning costs.

These new regulations, which will take effect December 17, 2012, were designed to prevent future “legacy sites” with insufficient funds for decommissioning. A legacy site is a facility with an owner who cannot complete complex decommissioning work for technical or financial reasons, causing those costs to fall to the taxpayer.

An unintended consequence will be that there is that much more low-level radioactive that will need to be disposed of in sites such as the Andrews County site that the Texas legislature just passed legislation on opening it up to accept waste from outside the original two state compact (Texas and Vermont).  Click here to read more about radioactive waste disposal in the US.

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In honor of SB 1605, a Simmons‘ led bill on the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission, we decided to post a music video speaking of more sensible, viable options for clean energy. Hope you enjoy it!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHORHE7YcbM]

And the lyrics after the jump if you want them: (more…)

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All rights reserved by Public Citizen Texas

Infamously dubbed by Dallas Magazine “Dallas’ Most Evil Genius”, socialite and energy tycoon Harold Simmons is no stranger to Texas lobbying.  As this blog previously reported in January, Simmons has contributed $1.12 million from 2001 to September 2010 to Rick Perry significantly increasing his contributions between 6/25/2009 and 9/30/2010 totaling $600,000 in a 15 month period or more than doubling his previous contributions. Now why did Simmons increase his campaign contributions? Perhaps it’s been used to grease the wheels on his  recently passed radioactive waste bill SB 1504 allowing Simmons’ company Waste Control Specialists a monopoly on Texas low-level radiation waste disposal.

Simmons’ money didn’t stop at Perry. According to the Texans for Public Justice, Simmons paid $182, 350 in the 2010 election cycle to 92 members of the House, 94% Republicans and 6%  Democrats. Obviously, all of this is significant because of the recent vote in the House on bill SB 1504. 76% of the members who received Simmons contributions or $138,350 voted with the money, yea, while only 13% or $24, 500 voted nay and 11% or $19,500 abstained from voting. Contrary to a damning report by Public Citizen addressing the dangers of nuclear waste disposal , 84% of the House members who took Simmons’ money voted following the company line while only 16% or 15 members abstained from voting or voted nay.

Simmons granted a rare interview to the Dallas Business Journal in 2006 offering an eerie outlook on his lobbying efforts “It took us six years to get legislation on this passed in Austin, but now we’ve got it all passed. We first had to change the law to where a private company can own a license [to handle radioactive waste], and we did that. Then we got another law passed that said they can only issue one license. Of course, we were the only ones that applied.

Most House Members Who Took Simmons’ Money Voted To Grant Him A Monopoly to Import Nuclear Waste

Simmons BillVote in House No. of Members Percent of Members Total Amount From Simmons Average Amount from Simmons
Yea 108 72% $138,350 $1,281
Nay 36 24% $24,500 $681
Not Voting 6 4% $19,500 $3,250
Totals 150 100% $182,350 $1,216

House Members Taking Simmons’ Money but Bravely Went Against Their Benefactor

House Member Dist. Party Simmons Amount in 2010 Cycle 2nd Reading Vote 5/17 3rd Reading Vote 5/18
Anderson, Charles 56 R $2,000 Absent Absent
Carter, Stefani 102 R $2,000 Nay Nay
Coleman, Garnet 147 D $15,000 Yea Nay
Davis, Sarah 134 R $500 Yea Nay
Dukes, Dawnna 46 D $1,000 Nay Nay
Farrar, Jessica 148 D $500 Absent Nay
Gallego, Pete 74 D $15,000 Nay Nay
Giddings, Helen 109 D $1,000 Nay Nay
*Howard,  Donna 48 D $500 Nay Nay
Hunter, Todd 32 R $2,000 Absent Absent
Issac, Jason A. 45 R $1,000 Nay Nay
Kolkhorst, Lois 13 R $1,000 Nay Nay
*Martinez Fischer, Trey 116 D $1,000 Nay Nay
Reynolds, Ron 27 D $500 Nay Nay
Straus, Joe 121 R $15,000 Not Voting Not Voting
Villarreal, Mike 123 D $1,000 Nay Absent

*Member of House Natural Resources Committee that first approved bill.

Note: If you are interested to see  if your representative voted with the money or even received 2010 campaign contributions from Simmons please visit this link provided by TPJ, Bankroll Call: Correlating Simmons Contributions To Texas House Votes.

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HB 2184 was voted out of the Texas House State Affairs Committee earlier today.  HB 2184 is a piece of  legislation that impacts how much, from where and how safely radioactive waste will be transported and stored at a West Texas site, and who will pay for it if something goes wrong.

While this bill has been moving rapidly through the Texas legislature, today when being reconsidered in State Affairs, a number of members offered amendments, none of which were agreeable to the bill’s author, Representative Tryon Lewis (R-Odessa) and none of which were amended to the bill that passed out of the committee.  Nevertheless, the issues raised by the proposed amendments got the attention of several members of the committee. (more…)

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Well for those who have been waiting to hear how the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission (TLLRWDCC) voted on the new rule that would open Texas up to accepting radioactive waste from as many as 36 other states (and possibly beyond that), it is no surprise that the Compact Commission voted in favor of the rule.

Public Citizen‘s Texas director, Tom “Smitty” Smith and the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition’s executive director, Karen Hadden drove through the night to the edges of the state in order to attend the hearing this morning, and have spent the better part of the day listening to the public and the Commissioners debate issues around this rule.

Karen Hadden just texted us to say:

In an outrageous demonstration of ignoring public opposition, the unfunded Compact Commision, which has no office, no bylaws and only one staff person, still managed to vote to open Texas up to radioactive waste from around the country.  In Andrews County, a late afternoon vote followed public testimony, predominantly in opposition to the radioactive waste expansion, and heated debate between the Commissioners.

Legal challenges are likely.  The Commissioners rushed this crucial vote through during the holidays ahead of the swearing in of a new Governor in Vermont and the beginning of the 82nd Texas legislative session.  They rushed this vote through in spite of concerns being expressed by legislative members of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission during a December 15th Sunset Commission hearing. They rushed this vote through in spite of issues around citizens’ ability to submit their comments because of a incorrect email address listed in the Texas Register posting of the rules and instructions to the public about where to submit comments.  They rushed this through despite a motion by Commissioner Gregory to extend the comment period which they refused to do.   They rush this through and Texas got screwed.

We will post more on this vote tomorrow.

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 UPDATE:

Judge Sam Sparks of the US District Court for the Western District of Texas just dismissed the case to enjoin the Compact Commission meeting tomorrow, saying while he was concerned about the issue of citizen’s ability to participate fully, he did not have jurisdiction to enjoin the meeting, and threw the whole case out allowing the vote on the rule to go forward tomorrow.

So, the Compact Commission is still planning to meet in Andrews, Texas at 9 am tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 9 AM, at the James Roberts Center located at 855 Hwy 176 East, Andrews, TX 79714 . . .  Please join us if you can!

UPDATE:

The Compact Commission is still planning to meet in Andrews, Texas at 9 am tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 9 AM, at the James Roberts Center located at 855 Hwy 176 East, Andrews, TX 79714 . . .  Please join us if you can!

 

Legal Maneuvers Still Underway
The Commission could vote on the Import rule at this meeting. Passage would allow import of radioactive waste from all the states, and through a loophole, potentially the whole world. It would be disposed of through shallow burial at the Waste Control Specialists (WCS) site in Andrews County, Texas. The TCEQ does set license limits for the site, but the import rule sought by WCS and most members of the Compact Commission is a backhanded way to force license expansion.
Legal efforts by Public Citizen resulted in a Temporary Restraining Order for tomorrow’s meeting.  Now the AG is jumping in, although they should have nothing whatsoever to say about this, since they have made clear that they can’t represent the Commission, only individual members.
There is now a 3 pm hearing (today) with US District Judge Sam Sparks at the Federal Courthouse, 200 W. 8th Street in Austin.
Proceedings here could impact the Andrews meeting scheduled for tomorrow in Andrews, but we’re counting on the meeting still happening and heading out west after the hearing.

 UPDATE:

A hearing on the temporary restraining order (TRO) against the Texas Low-level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission’s (TLLRWDCC) hearing on their proposed rule to open Texas up to taking waste from states outside the current compact states of Texas and Vermont is scheduled for 3pm in Federal Court, Judge Sam Sparks presiding. The motion was filed by GNI Strategies.

No hearing has been set on the motion to dissolve TRO in state court.

ORIGINAL POST:

 

 
 
 

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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UPDATE:  Hope you’ve been keeping an eye on this, but just needed to point out there have been major developments on this which make this post now completely false.  We don’t believe in just dumping things down the memory hole here, but do believe in making sure we get things right.  The updates are all posted here, so please keep your eyes on TexasVox for more updates on this.  Original story:

 

We’re still waiting for the final tally to come in, but it looks like through your efforts over 4,000 comments (probably closer to 5,000 or 6,000 with all of the other comments) were delivered into the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission, despite it being over the holidays.  We’ve been working furiously on this issue the past few weeks, and it’s paid off.

And now, a judge has ordered a halt to the upcoming meeting of the Compact Commission, putting the brakes on discussion of the importation rule.

Stay here for an update, but huge thanks to everyone who submitted a comment and worked so hard on this, especially our friends at CREDO Action who got so many of the comments in!!  Special thanks to Sierra Club for their hard work on this as well.

Let’s keep this crazy train rolling into 2011 and make our new year nuke-waste free.

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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The Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission TLLRWDCC will meet in Midland, Texas a week from Saturday (November 13th) to reconsider adopting a rule that was withdrawn in July that would allow for export of low-level radioactive waste for management and disposal from facilities outside of the Texas Compact, this will be followed by a host of generator petitions to ship low-level radioactive waste to Texas facilities.  For those that have been following our blogs on this, that means to the Waste Control Specialists (WCS) facility in Andrews County out in West Texas.  The Compact Commission will receive public comment, discuss and take formal action, as appropriate, on items on the agenda below until it adjourns.

November 13, 2010 at 10:00 a.m.

University of Texas of the Permian Basin
Center for Energy and Economic Diversification
1400 Farm-To-Market Road 1788 N
Midland, Texas.

To see the proposed rule, click here.
To see the proposed additions to the draft rule from Compact Commision chair, Mike Ford, click here.

TEXAS LOW-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTE DISPOSAL COMPACT COMMISSION AGENDA (more…)

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Rick Perry’s latest campaign cash report shows Harold Simmons has just given Perry another $250,000 at the same time that he’s seeking permission to expand his Andrews County radioactive waste dump so 36 other states can dump their “low-level” radioactive waste right here in Texas.  This brings Simmons’ contributions to Perry up to almost $900,000.

WCS and a political money trailSimmons’ company (WCS or Waste Control Specialists) is currently waiting for a decision from the Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission (TLLRWDCC, even their acronym is a mouthful) as to whether or not they can bring in radioactive waste from 36 states and dump it. The Commission, comprised of 8 members, 6 of whom are Perry appointees and 2 of whom are appointed by Vermont (the other state in the compact), was set to rule earlier this year but now has delayed its ruling until after the election.

If this isn’t influence pedaling, it sure has the appearance of “paying to get your way”.

For more information about the WCS dump and to see the request for investigation that the Sierra Club and Public Citizen filed with the NRC and EPA, go to www.nukefreetexas.org.

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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No Radioactive WasteNRC and EPA called upon to examine radioactive waste site and licensing process, risks of groundwater contamination and potential risks to the Ogallala Aquifer, which lies beneath eight states

AUSTIN – Environmental groups today asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigate the radioactive waste storage and disposal programs administered by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for the West Texas radioactive waste site owned by Waste Control Specialists (WCS).  The groups say the TCEQ has failed to protect public health, safety and the environment by repeatedly and brazenly abusing its legal authority and disregarding warnings of its technical staff about the site’s hazards. Further, citizens have not had adequate opportunities to participate in the licensing processes.

The groups are calling on the NRC to consider terminating or suspending the TCEQ’s authority to regulate the storage and disposal of low-level radioactive waste and radioactive byproducts in Texas. The groups also are asking the EPA to review the potential impact on the water supply and take action if necessary.

Read the full release, the request to NRC and EPA,and supporting documents online at www.TexasNuclearSafety.org. The request was filed by Public Citizen and the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, along with State Representative Lon Burnam (Texas House District 90), and individuals from Andrews, Texas and Eunice, New Mexico, who live near the WCS facility in Andrews County. The matter is urgent because WCS has been pushing the Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission to let it import radioactive waste from at least 36 other states.

Some of the hottest radioactive waste that exists, including nuclear reactor containment vessels and poison curtains that absorb reactor radiation, could be buried in the proposed radioactive waste dump. There is not a single radionuclide that can’t go to the so-called ‘low-level’ site, and many of them remain hazardous for literally millions of years.

Radioactive waste dumps around the country have leaked. Cleaning up contaminated groundwater is difficult and expensive. Texas taxpayers could be on the hook for clean up costs if the site and groundwater become contaminated or if there are transportation accidents.

Go to www.TexasNuclearSafety.org to learn more.

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At a time when lax regulatory oversight has contributed to such catastrophic problems for our nation as the financial crisis and the BP oil spill, Texas may be in the process of setting itself up for a fiscally disastrous and environmentally catastrophic future – all because of a vote by an appointed committee taking place out on the dusty, lonely edges of West Texas.

The hearing on plans to expand the low-level radioactive waste facility in Andrews County, that was postponed last month because of the volume of comments for official review, has been rescheduled for Saturday, and opponents of the facility are stepping up their opposition. (more…)

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A new poll shows 70% of Texans oppose importing radioactive waste to Texas for storage in Andrews County. Yet a crucial vote on a new rule by non-elected members of a commission could make Texas into the radioactive waste dump for the nation, and perhaps the world.

Originally only Texas and two other states could send radioactive waste to West Texas. Now a rule proposed by the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission would let Waste Control Specialists (WCS) dump radioactive waste from 36 or more states, and potentially from around the world, in Andrews County. This is not what anyone bargained for – even the legislators who approved the original Compact Agreement.

With a possible vote looming on the horizon (tentatively scheduled for May 11th), yesterday the Texas League of Women Voters, Public Citizen, the Lonestar Chapter of Sierra Club, and the SEED Coalition sponsored a webinar to provide expert information on radioactive waste importation for city, county and state leaders. In addition to featuring experts on radioactive waste disposal the webinar panel included Representatives Lon Burnham (D-Ft Worth) and Robert Talton (R- Pasadena).

Coincidentally, this morning we learned the Commission has canceled their May 11th meeting stating publically that they are unable to deal with the over 2,400 comments they received on the rule in time for the meeting.

The Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission was created in early 2009, with two commissioners appointed by Vermont and six appointed by Perry. Perry has seen $620,000 plowed into his coffers by Harold Simmons, a Dallas billionaire whose company Valhi, Inc. owns Waste Control Specialists, LLC. That kind of money could mean there would be pressure on the six Perry appointed commissioners to vote for the rule. (Read Texans for Public Justice’s Lobby Watch for more information about WCS and political contributions.) (more…)

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Thursday, October 8th the Esperanza Peace & Justice center continues the Other and Out & Beyond film series with a day on nuclear energy and the devastating effects of uranium mining, nuclear waste and contamination. This event is Free and open to the public, though donations are appreciated.

All films will be held at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center at 922 San Pedro, San Antonio, TX 78212.  The center can be reached at 210-228-0201 or at www.esperanzacenter.org.

Must see movies from the 70’s and 80’s:

2pm The China Syndrome

A modern nightmare nearly becomes reality in this tension-filled movie starring Jane Fonda as an ambitious TV reporter covering a story on energy sources who is present at a nuclear plant when a startling accident occurs that nearly causes the  meltdown of the reactor. 122 mins/US/1979

4:15 pm Silkwood

This dramatic film is based on the true story of Karen Silkwood, a ran and file worker at a plutonium factory, who becomes an activist after being accidentally exposed to a lethal dose of radiation.  Starring Meryl Streep. 131 mins/US/1983

Life & Land: The Hidden Costs of Nuclear

7:00 pm Climate of Hope

While the threat of climate change is now widely accepted in the community, the potential for neuclear power stations in Australia has raised questions about the best strategy to move to a low-carbon economy.  This animated doucmentary takes us on a tour through the science of climate change, the nuclear fuel chain and the remarkable energy revolution that is under wya.  30 mins/Australia/2007

7:40 pm Woven Ways

Told in their own words with no narration, Woven Ways is a lyrical testimony to Navajo beauty and hope in the face of grave environmental injustice.  For decades, uranium miing has contaminated the people, land and livestock that sustain their culuture and economy.  The film chronicles each family’s steady resolve to hold on to the land, air and water, not for themselves, but for generations that will come.

8:30 pm Platica — The evening program will be followed by a community platica on nuclear energy including local activists and experts who will share their knowledge on issues of waste, water, mining, renewable energy alternatives and local organizing.

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Many of you have been clamoring for these videos of the clean tech forum that we attended on Wednesday, so here they are in streaming digital goodness.
[vimeo 6648744]
[vimeo 6649649]

Outside the event we caught up with two of the panelists from the forum, specifically the ones opposed to San Antonio investing in the new nuclear expansion.  First, Craig Severance, a CPA by trade, who did a financial “due diligence” type of analysis on the proposed nuclear expansion at STP 3 and 4. Read about it in his blog at energyeconomyonline.com/San_Antonio_Debate

[vimeo 6648340]

We also spoke with Dr. Arjun Makhijani, a noted power expert, on the risks of nuclear expansion.

[vimeo 6648395]

It’s time to be hard-headed about this, folks.  Investing in nuclear  is an economic risk the City of San Antonio simply can’t afford to take.

Hungry for more?  We have full footage of the “Risking San Antonio’s Economic Future, Nuclear Experts Explain Flaws and Risks of Pursuing More Nuclear Reactors” forum that was held later in the day at the UTSA Downtown Campus.

[vimeo 6660448]
[vimeo 6662900]

Here’s some of the press coverage from the event:

Energy leaders to debate nuke issue in S.A.By Tracy Idell Hamilton   -Express-News

Nuclear forum highlights contrasting opinions –  By Anton Caputo   -Express-News

Nuke vote delayed; final hearing is set By Tracy Idell Hamilton   -Express-News

Nuclear investment part of a viable energy portfolio By Patrick Moore
(please go here and leave snarky comments about what a corporate stooge sell-out Patrick Moore is)

http://johntedesco.net/blog/2009/09/16/fresh-from-twitter-debating-nuclear-power/

http://blog.barberassociates.com/2009/09/san-antonio-clean-technology-nuclear.html

http://www.ksat.com/news/20966023/detail.html

And last but certainly not least, for our Amigos who can habla espanol, please watch this video from Univision featuring our own Melissa Sanchez and David Power!

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