USA: Fukushima Freeways
Thousands of intensely radioactive nuclear waste shipments would cross U.S. roads, rails and waterways if plans for the country's first, and scientifically indefensible, nuclear waste repository in Nevada move forward. On October 27 the Nuclear Information & Resource Service (NIRS) released maps of the likely routes radioactive shipments would use, joining dozens of environmental and clean energy groups across the country. The groups want residents to weigh in with Congress and decision-makers about the dangers.
Department of Energy studies completed in the 1990s confirmed that accidents in transporting the waste to Yucca Mountain would be a near certainty, due to the large number of shipments that would be required. The shipments would also be vulnerable to attack or sabotage along the hundreds or thousands of miles that each cask would travel.
Some in Congress want to force a nuclear waste dump to open in Nevada, over President Obama's and the state's objections as well as that of the Western Shoshone Nation. The president has defunded the proposed Yucca Mountain repository since 2010, effectively abandoning the controversial project, while Nevada is certain that the site is not suitable for storing nuclear waste and opposes the project. Nevada controls land and water rights the federal government would need to complete the project. To overcome that obstacle, Congress would need to enact a law overriding the state's rights. Doing so would then open the door for the nuclear waste shipments to begin.
"Congress should stop wasting time and money on Yucca Mountain which should have been disqualified long ago for its technical inability to isolate nuclear waste," said Tim Judson, NIRS Executive Director.
Large-scale nuclear waste transport would also occur if, as some in Congress advocate, a "centralized interim storage" site for high-level radioactive waste were created. In that case, the waste would either have to move twice (once to the interim site, and then to a permanent site), thus doubling the risks or the "interim" site would become a de facto permanent waste dump--without going through the necessary scientific characterization.
The Stop Fukushima Freeways website has a wealth of information about the issues and risks associated with nuclear waste transportation:
Ukraine court rules against nuclear safety activists in defamation case
On October 29 a court in Kiev ruled against activists from the National Centre of Ukraine (NECU) in a defamation case. The lawsuit by the state's nuclear company Energoatom suppresses public debate about the risks of Ukraine's outdated reactors − a debate that must also be held in neighbouring countries affected by the risks of the plants continuing operation.
The lawsuit referred to a press release from 15 May 2015 in which NECU reported on the state nuclear regulator's decision to shut down the nuclear unit once it reached its design lifetime because the insufficient safety standards at the time did not allow prolonged operation.
"Nuclear safety is one of the pressing issues facing Ukraine. But today's court ruling makes clear that the state can guarantee neither nuclear safety nor public debate," said Iryna Holovko, Bankwatch's national campaigner in Ukraine.
Despite the case attracting international attention, the Ukrainian government appears keen to block the public debate, not only at home but also abroad. International treaties oblige Ukraine to launch environmental impact assessment and public consultations in neighbouring countries before extending the lifetime of the Soviet-era reactors. The European Commission has acknowledged this requirement, and the authorities in at least three neighbouring EU countries have already approached their Ukrainian counterparts on the matter, but Kiev so far refuses to cooperate. Neighbouring governments and the European Union have already expressed their wish to be involved in decisions about Ukraine's zombie reactors (bankwatch.org/zombiereactors).
The court ruling will not stop NECU from campaigning for an open discussion and a proper assessments of the risks. Please help us by telling others what is happening right now on Europe's doorstep and share the message on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/fb-necu) and signing up for email campaign updates (bit.ly/UAgagged or http://bankwatch.org/nucleartruth).
− Sven Haertig-Tokarz, Bankwatch