As we have been reporting to you for several months (for example, in our April 17 letter about National Radioactive Waste Action Day [ http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5502/t/0/blastContent.jsp?email_blast_KEY=1244911 ]), the Senate Energy Committee has been working on new and comprehensive radioactive waste policy legislation.
The lead sponsors--Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN)--have now released a "discussion draft" of this legislation. You can read it and related documents on the Committee's website here [ http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2013/4/senators-release-discussion-draft-of-comprehensive-nuclear-waste-legislation ].
In a somewhat unusual move, the Committee is accepting public comments on the draft bill. This is probably our final opportunity before a bill is formally introduced to make it clear: We will not accept "interim" storage of high-level radioactive waste; we will not accept our roads and railways burdened with thousands of casks of lethal nuclear waste moving to a "temporary" unsuitable location for the convenience of the nuclear power industry.
*Add your voice now. Tell the Committee here that "interim" storage is unacceptable. Stop a Mobile Chernobyl. No Fukushima Freeways.* [ http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5502/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=14113 ]
This discussion draft bill is modeled somewhat after the Department of Energy's Blue Ribbon Commission recommendations and on legislation introduced last Congress by retired Energy Committee chair Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). But unlike that bill, which linked an "interim" storage site
to siting of a permanent repository, this discussion draft greatly weakens that link. And a separate proposal offered for comment by Sens. Feinstein and Alexander would weaken that linkage further. Without such linkage, the odds that any progress would be made toward a permanent solution to our radioactive waste problem grow slim indeed. Just the opposite; the absence of linkage makes it far more likely that a consolidated "interim" storage site would be a de facto permanent dump, regardless of whether it is suited for that.
The bill addresses issues beyond "interim" storage of waste; for example, taking the waste issue out of the Department of Energy and creating a new agency to handle the problem. But four of the eight questions the Committee asks for comment on address the "interim" storage issue, and our sample comments are limited to that issue. But please feel free to edit and expand on the sample letter provided on our action page. The eight questions are part of the documents available on the Senate Energy Committee's website.
In April, we provided several talking points on the radioactive waste issue; they are reproduced below. Feel free to adapt these if you choose to provide more extended comments than our sample letter. You can also find much more information and background about the issue on the Mobile Chernobyl page of our website here [ http://www.nirs.org/radwaste/hlwtransport/mobilechernobyl.htm ].
*Comments to the Committee are due by Friday, May 24, so act now.
* [ http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5502/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=14113 ]
Thanks for all you do,
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
www.nirs.org [ http://www.nirs.org ]