The federal government has flip-flopped again and will soon be looking for places to begin drilling in eastern states, looking for a permanent home for the nation's enormous backlog of high-level radioactive wastes. The wastes are temporarily stored in pools of water at operating nuclear power plants, but the pools are filling up. The search for deep-earth repositories in eastern states had been announced several years ago but was canceled for what seemed to be political reasons. Now the east will once again be examined for a possible "second repository;" the "first repository" will still be built in Nevada or Washington state or Texas, if federal officials have their way.
However, federal radioactive waste disposal programs are "on the verge of technical, legal, and political collapse," according to a coalition of grass roots citizen groups who have been monitoring federal programs carefully. Called the National Nuclear Waste Task Force, the coalition has active citizen groups in Nevada, Washington state, Texas, Mississippi, Utah, Oregon, Tennessee, Georgia, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Their immediate goal is to alert Congress to the failure of nuclear waste programs that the federal Department of Energy (DOE) manages under authority of the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act. They want federal funding cut and DOE's present programs halted.
The Task Force says DOE has mismanaged the program, has allowed political considerations to cloud its science, has selected both first and second repository candidate sites that appear to be technically unsuitable, and has proposed an expensive, unnecessary, and dangerous "Monitored Retrievable Storage (MRS)" facility to be built in Tennessee to make up for the program's other failures.
The Task Force is calling for establishment of an independent commission to review DOE's repository and
MRS programs. To get involved in the Task Force's efforts, contact Caroline Petti, 2001 O Street, NW,
Washington, DC 20036; phone (202) 457-0545.
--Peter Montague, Ph.D.
Descriptor terms: department of energy; waste disposal; repositories; radioactive waste; federal; waste; storage; national nuclear waste task force; nuclear waste policy act; wa; tx; nv; tn; mrs; monitored retrievable storage; high level waste; hlw; citizen groups; wi; va; nc; ga; me; mi; nh; nm; ut; or; doe;