The treatment of low levels of radioactivity and radiation as significant hazards by the nuclear industry and government agencies are here again supported by the rad protection rabble-rousers.
Regards, Jim Muckerheide
PUBLIC CITIZEN PRESS RELEASE, Aug. 2, 2005
Citizens’ Groups Expose Seriously Flawed LES Radioactive Waste Disposal Plan
Public Interest Groups Continue to Press Legal Challenge as Nuclear Agency Hosts Public Meeting on Its Environmental and Safety Evaluations of Uranium Enrichment Facility
As the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) hosts a public meeting this evening in Eunice, New Mexico, on its environmental and safety evaluations of a proposed uranium enrichment plant near there, the legal challenge being pursued by citizens groups Public Citizen (PC) and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) is bringing to light the flawed radioactive waste disposal strategy of the company that is seeking a license to build and operate the plant.
PC and NIRS are engaged in an intervention against the license application of Louisiana Energy Services (LES), a European-led consortium, which they contend lacks a plausible strategy for the disposition and disposal of the very large quantities of depleted uranium (DU)—a long-lived radioactive and hazardous waste—that would be produced by the plant. The issue has become the most contentious concern in the licensing case.
“There remain serious
unresolved questions about the ultimate destination of the extremely harmful
radioactive waste that would be produced by the LES plant,” said Wenonah
Hauter, director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass energy program.
“Each option presented by LES and the NRC is flawed, and there is a great
likelihood that the agreement between LES and the State of
Evaluations performed by Public Citizen and NIRS and their expert consultants at the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research have shown that the waste disposal options presented by LES are not reasonable strategies to handle the massive amount of uranium waste that would be produced by the plant:
WCS option. LES has identified the Waste Control Specialists (WCS) site
But an investigation performed by Public Citizen and NIRS experts reveals serious flaws in WCS’s application for a license to establish a long-term low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) dump at its Andrew County, Texas site. Gross inaccuracies and misrepresentations in the application demonstrate this company’s lack of fitness to accept waste from LES. Indeed, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the licensing authority in Texas, severely criticized WCS’s license application and site in a July 20 letter to the company, warning WCS that its facility design “appears inadequate to appropriately stabilize certain wastes for disposal, segregate different classes of radioactive waste, [and] verify by testing the accurate classification of waste received for disposal,” among other problems, such as an “inadequate” decommissioning plan, security plan, and emergency plan.
Envirocare option. Envirocare of Utah, LLC, a LLRW dump licensed by
Moreover, it appears that an amendment to Envirocare’s operating license, formally adopted on June 13, 2005, would effectively prohibit the company from accepting depleted uranium waste in the great quantities that would be generated by LES, eliminating it as a disposal option.
DOE option. The final EIS cites the U.S. Department of Energy’s
(DOE) Nevada Test Site as a possible long-term disposal site for LES’s
depleted uranium if ownership of the waste is transferred to the DOE.
However, the DOE has an abysmal record of radioactive waste management,
exemplified by the massive stockpiles of DU waste sitting idle at sites in
Flawed deal with the State of
Unrealistic cost estimates. The cost estimates offered by LES for DU processing and disposal are extremely low because they are based on these flawed and implausible disposal options. Proper disposal of LES’s DU waste—in a deep geologic repository—would raise LES’s waste disposal estimates exponentially.
“There is no established site in this country for the safe, long-term disposal of depleted uranium, and LES’s half-baked plans for disposal do not hold water,” said Michael Mariotte, executive director of NIRS. “It would not be prudent to move forward with this new facility in the absence of a reasonable strategy for properly disposing of this waste.”
“The net result of
LES’s flawed waste disposal plans is likely to be a legacy of long-lived
radioactive waste contamination in
Public Citizen and NIRS will continue to challenge the license application and waste disposal plans of LES in hearings set for this fall.
Contact: Joseph Malherek, PC (202) 454-5109; Michael Mariotte, NIRS (202) 328-0002