Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

USA’s Department of Energy wants to reclassify high-level nuclear waste

DOE proposes reclassifying high-level nuclear waste, could send more to WIPP Adrian C Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus  Nov. 2, 2018 A proposal to re-characterize high-level nuclear waste could bring more waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

The U.S. Department of Energy posted a notice in the federal register in October, requesting public comment on the potential change.

If approved, the DOE would change how it labels high level waste (HLW), allowing some of the waste resulting from processing nuclear fuel to be characterized as either low-level or transuranic (TRU) waste.

If the waste is deemed low-level, it can be disposed of at the generator site, or in a surface-level facility………

When the HLW is held at the site, the federal government pays for the facility’s utilities, costing tax payers billions of dollars a year, Heaton said.

Some of that money could be saved, he said, if the waste was moved.

“A lot of would pass the waste acceptance criteria at WIPP,” Heaton said. “It would extend the life of WIPP for sure. ………

Don Hancock, director of the Nuclear Waste Program at the Southwest Research and Information Center said the proposal is not only illegal, but hypocritical.

He said HLW is defined numerous times in laws passed by the U.S. Congress, and the DOE’s proposal would circumvent congressional powers.

“What it seems like they’re proposing is illegal,” he said. “They say they get to rewrite the law, not Congress. They’re a lot of opposition to this nationally.”

Hancock also said that if waste is truly less dangerous than previously thought, it could be safely kept where it is.

If it’s more dangerous to keep the waste at the generator sites, Hancock said the DOE should petition for more repositories.

All HLW must be sent to a geologic repository, per federal law, excluding WIPP which is licensed for TRU waste.

Aside from re-characterizing HLW as TRU waste, Hancock said the proposal was also intended to get around the law requiring HLW to go underground, by re-characterizing it as low-level waste.

“There was a consensus that there should be multiple geologic repositories,” Hancock said. “There should be multiple places in the U.S. where you can have safe repositories. That didn’t happen.”

Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, achedden@currentargus.com or @AdrianHedden on Twitter. https://www.currentargus.com/story/news/local/2018/11/02/doe-reclassifying-nuclear-waste/1831914002  

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November 3, 2018 - Posted by | General News

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