A program to expand nuclear industry, not deal with wastes
in its name, charter, membership, words, and actions, the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC) seems more devoted to the nuclear power industry’s continuation, and even expansion, than it is to solving the radioactive waste problem.
The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC for short), Beyond Nuclear, 11 Nov 10, It was created by President Obama and Energy Secretary Chu at the end of January, 2010. It was supposed to come up with “Plan B” for U.S. high-level radioactive waste management, now that they have so wisely and thankfully cancelled the geologically unsuitable and environmentally unjust Yucca Mountain, Nevada dumpsite proposal.
Unfortunately, however, in its name, charter, membership, words, and actions, the BRC seems more devoted to the nuclear power industry’s continuation, and even expansion, than it is to solving the radioactive waste problem.
Incredibly, the BRC will soon stop taking public comments. This is unacceptable, in that the BRC has existed for less than a year, and has only been open to public comment for less than nine months. The radioactive waste dilemma, with such high stakes for safety, security, health, and the environment for current, and countless future human generations to come, has defied solution for nearly 70 years now! Unfortunately, the BRC has busied itself by flirting with such dangerous and already failed ideas as reprocessing and “centralized interim storage,” likely to be targeted at Department of Energy sites such as Savannah River, South Carolina and/or Native American reservations, despite the environmental injustice this would represent.
Beyond Nuclear’s Kevin Kamps, along with Susan Corbett of the South Carolina Sierra Club, have been tapped by a coalition of grassroots radioactive waste watchdogs across the country to present before the BRC next Tuesday morning, November 16th. In their brief allotted time, Kevin and Susan will summarize the coalition’s sign on statement. This statement reflects four key principles: no reprocessing; isolation of the waste from the biosphere for as long as it is a hazard; “stop making it”; and “hardened on-site storage” (HOSS), as well as better monitoring, where waste is stored now, as the first, temporary step to meet these goals.
Please sign your group onto the statement, by emailing Mary Olson at NIRS ( firstname.lastname@example.org ). Mary needs your group name, contact name, city, state, website if you have one, and a concise list of nuclear sites/facilities/issues that you work on regularly. The sign on deadline is Saturday, November 13, 2010. (individuals can also endorse the statement — watch for an email from NIRS on the way to do that later this week, or simply email Mary your desire as an individual to sign on, with complete contact information).
On Tuesday morning, November 16, you can watch Kevin and Susan present to the BRC. If you can make it to the meeting, it’s being held at the Washington Marriott Metro Center, 775 12th St. NW, Washington, DC. If not, you can watch the live webcast via the BRC’s website at www.brc.gov. Kevin and Susan are scheduled to present from 8:45 am to 9:25 am. Public comments are scheduled from 11:15 am to 12:15 pm, during which time additional anti-nuclear activists may also speak. Here is the BRC’s full two day schedule. More information about the BRC is available at its website above, or by calling Tim Frazier, the BRC Designated Federal Officer, at (202) 586-4243.
Finally, despite its clear bias in favor of nuclear power (it’s closely affiliated with the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, the mission of which is to promote atomic energy!), the BRC has called for comments from the public.* Time is drawing short, as, incredibly, the BRC is about to close the public comment opportunity and set to writing its draft recommendations by mid 2011, followed by its final report by early 2012. So, email your comments ASAP to the BRC via BRC@nuclear.energy.gov. For background information to help you with ideas on what to include in your comments, refer to the group sign on statement above, check out http://www.beyondnuclear.org/radioactive-waste/, http://www.nirs.org/radwaste/radwaste.htm, and http://www.ieer.org/webindex.html#waste, or look through already submitted comments to the BRC at http://www.brc.gov/comments.html. You can also contact Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear’s Radioactive Waste Watchdog, via email@example.com or (301) 270-2209 ext. 1 for ideas.
*However, at a meeting of its Transportation and Storage Subcommittee in Chicago on November 1st and 2nd, BRC’s competence at public participation left a lot to be desired. Not only was November 2nd Election Day, thus inappropriate for a public meeting because it conflicted with the civic duty of voting, but the BRC Subcommittee actually commenced and ended its public comment opportunity earlier than it had publicized in its Federal Register Notice! Concerned citizens arrived at the BRC meeting on time according to the published schedule, only to find out their opportunity to comment had passed and the meeting had been adjourned! In addition, concerned citizens in attendance that day who wished to make public comment were not informed they were required to sign up to do so in advance that morning, and then were not allowed to provide comments! If the BRC cannot even get the basics of public participartion right today, how can they even pretend to be able to protect future generations for the next million years or more from the hazards of high-level radioactive waste?!
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