Earlier this year, the Obama Administration's Dept. of Energy announced the creation of its "Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) on the Future of Nuclear Power in America", ostensibly to "study and recommend" what the U.S. should do about its radioactive waste problems. Many of us watched or attended the first meeting of the Commission in April -- and are deeply disturbed by what we have seen and heard.
As a response to the first meeting of the Commission a number of organizations have come together to create a National Grassroots Summit and Forum on Radioactive Waste Policy -- to articulate a national radioactive waste policy for the other 350 million Americans the DOE Panel seems intent on ignoring.
Having both an educational and strategic planning component, this Summit and Forum in June will create an activist tool to tell the DOE and Administration what the real public wants in terms of radioactive waste disposal; educate ourselves and interested members of the public on radioactive waste options and techniques; and establish a "Peoples Green Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Waste Future" on radioactive waste policy that will monitor and critique the work of the BRC, and develop its own list of recommendations and body of public testimony to be offered to the DOE as guidance in developing national radioactive waste policy.
Goals of the Summit will be to identify common ground (geographically and in terms of challenges, concerns and goals) and bottom lines. We will work in small groups and as a spokes council in addition to sharing time all together. In addition, a Green Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Waste Future will be elected and charged to produce a report which will provide an alternative plan from that of the federal Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future. In order to set the outlines of the debate, we will issue the Green Ribbon Commission Report before the federal Blue Ribbon Commission issues its report over the next 18 -- 24 months.
This event is the next step in a dialog that has been on-going since the first pile of nuclear waste was generated by the Manhattan Project -- most irradiated fuel is still sitting on the reactor sites where it was made. The cancellation of Yucca Mountain creates an enormous new set of questions and challenges for the nuclear industry and the public interest. Similarly, the restriction of waste allowed at the Barnwell, South Carolina so-called "low-level" waste dump in 2008, leaves nuclear power plants (the primary generators of this waste in the civilian sector) in more than 30 states with no place to bury this enormous, and often highly radioactive waste category; similar challenges exist in the military waste world. The new plan to expand both the civilian reactor fleet and the nuclear weapons production complex threaten our heart-felt goal to see the end to more radioactive waste production.
Come join this discussion on June 4, 5, 6 at the Loyola University, Lake Shore Campus, Chicago.
For more information on the Summit contact Mary Olson at NIRS – maryo[at]nirs.org (+1 828-252-8409 or Alfred Meyer at Alfred.c.meyer[at]gmail.com, (+1 202-215-8208).