.News Update 10/17/08

Four DOE Hearings about GNEP in New Mexico

October 17, 2008

The Department of Energy (DOE) will hold four public hearings in New Mexico about their Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. www.gnep.energy.gov. GNEP is a Bush administration proposal to expand nuclear energy use worldwide and manage the waste disposal. The proposal resurrects dangerous reprocessing and transmutation technologies. Under GNEP, the U.S. would reprocess its own spent nuclear fuel, as well as fuel from other countries.

Reprocessing, incorrectly referred to in the draft document as "recycling," is the extraction of weapons-useable plutonium from nuclear waste. GNEP has already faced stiff public opposition due to its disastrous environmental impacts and multi-billion-dollar costs. GNEP employs technology that encourages nuclear proliferation and has an estimated price tag of $700 billion, which is similar to that of the recent financial bailout.

Since 2006, the Bush administration has promoted GNEP as a way to solve the nuclear waste problem in the U.S. and support the expansion of nuclear power. However, recent studies by the National Academy of Sciences, Government Accountability Office, the International Panel on Fissile Materials, and a nuclear industry-sponsored report by the Keystone Center have refuted these claims and expressed further concerns regarding dangerous pollution, nuclear proliferation and exorbitant cost.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires DOE to analyze the environmental and socio-economic impacts of reprocessing. The draft document has already faced serious criticism due to its failure to fully address environmental and security concerns; failure to provide any cost analyses; and making unsubstantiated claims that reprocessing reduces the volume of nuclear waste.

Susan Gordon, director of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, a national network of more than 30 member organizations, many of whom live in communities that will potentially be impacted by GNEP, said "GNEP would endanger the environment, encourage nuclear bomb-making, squander U.S. taxpayer dollars, and deepen the nuclear waste problem. Under the GNEP plan, some countries would supply and fuel nuclear reactors for other as-yet-unnamed countries that would agree to forgo uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing. Promoting "nuclear-have" countries and "nuclear-have-not" countries has proven to be a disaster for nonproliferation efforts."

In 2007, during the NEPA public comment period, hundreds of New Mexicans joined thousands of people nationally to submit more than 14,000 comments - the second highest number in the history of DOE public comments that were primarily in opposition to GNEP.

The New Mexico hearings begin on Monday, November 17 in Hobbs at the Lea County Event Center, beginning at 7 pm. A Carlsbad hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, November 18 at the Pecos River Village Conference Center, beginning at 9:00 am. That evening, a Roswell hearing will begin at 7 pm at the Eastern New Mexico University. The last hearing will be held in Los Alamos on Thursday, November 20 at the Hilltop House Best Western, beginning at 7 pm.

Don Hancock, of Southwest Research and Information Center, said, "The next administration could kill GNEP if people again say NO to reprocessing because it is polluting, hugely expensive, and promotes proliferation."

The public comment period ends December 16, 2008.

A sample GNEP Action Alert is available at: www.ananuclear.org/Issues/GlobalNuclearEnergyPartnership/Library/tabid/56/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/138/Sample-GNEP-Action-Alert.aspx

Sample GNEP Comment Letter is available at: www.ananuclear.org/Issues/GlobalNuclearEnergyPartnership/Library/tabid/56/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/139/Sample-GNEP-PEIS-Comment-Letter.aspx

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