CCNS brought the New Mexico perspective to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) latest public meeting to develop a process for communities to step forward to volunteer, or “consent,” to siting future nuclear storage and disposal facilities in their community. The meeting, the fourth of nine, was held in Sacramento, California. The next meeting is scheduled for Denver on May 24th at the Embassy Suites Denver – Stapleton.
The federal DOE has the responsibility to find a disposal site for commercial irradiated nuclear fuel now in storage at more than 100 nuclear reactors across the U.S. DOE is also charged to find a disposal site for waste generated from the research, development and manufacturing of nuclear weapons. DOE is not responsible for consolidated storage sites for irradiated fuel, though that is a major focus of the current process.
Through a non-regulatory process, DOE is asking the public “to share their values, experiences and perspectives on issues that are important to DOE’s development of a consent-based siting process.” DOE is searching to define “consent,” to learn how consent is granted and withdrawn, and how “community well-being” is incorporated into siting decisions, among other things. The U.S. should have done a similar exercise before generating more than 75,000 metric tons of irradiated fuel, with more being produced every day.
CCNS is concerned that DOE is pushing a process on states, including New Mexico, that have already emphatically said they do not consent to new facilities. In New Mexico, the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance is proposing a storage facility for commercial irradiated fuel.
At the Sacramento meeting, Joni Arends, of CCNS, stated, “For over 35 years, New Mexico has told DOE and the nuclear corporations that it DOES NOT CONSENT to commercial irradiated nuclear fuel and defense high-level waste being stored or disposed in the state. In fact, Section 12 of the WIPP Land Withdrawal Act states, ‘The Secretary [of DOE] shall not transport high-level radioactive waste or spent nuclear fuel to WIPP or emplace or dispose of such waste or fuel at WIPP.’ Yet DOE continues to ignore the law and continues to push for expansion of WIPP even though it has failed in its ‘start clean, stay clean’ mission.”
CCNS requested that DOE “publicly affirm that states that do not consent will be excluded from any future nuclear facility siting processes.” CCNS CBS Sacramento 4-26-16
To learn more about DOE’s consent-based siting initiative, please visit http://www.energy.gov/ne/consent-based-siting, where you can view the previous meetings held in Washington, DC, Chicago, and Atlanta. DOE will webcast future meetings live.
To learn more about the community perspective, please visit the websites of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service at www.nirs.org and the Nuclear Energy Information Service at http://neis.org/ The NEIS public comments are NEIS POSITIONS ON RADIOACTIVE WASTE DOE meeting in Chicago 3-29-16, RECOMMENDATIONS ON DOE’S “CONSENT-BASED” SITING OF Radioactive waste facilities 3-29-16