DOE Proposes to Dump 160 Million Curies of “Hot” Low-Level Waste in New Mexico – Public Hearings Begin April 26
The Department of Energy (DOE) is proposing to dispose of 160 million curies of “hot” commercial low-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants at sites in New Mexico. The proposed sites are Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), and a proposed site in the vicinity of WIPP.
The waste from commercial nuclear power plants is called “Greater-Than-Class C low-level radioactive waste.” The Nuclear Regulatory Commission classifies low-level waste into four categories, named Class A, Class B, Class C, and the more highly radioactive Greater-than-Class C. The hotter wastes are activated metals from decommissioning the 104 commercial nuclear reactors in the U.S. and any new plants.
Current regulations say that the hot wastes should be disposed in a geologic repository. The only such site considered is WIPP, located near Carlsbad. Some other sites, including a site in the “WIPP Vicinity” and LANL, are being considered for near-surface burial in “enhanced trenches,” vaults, or intermediate-depth boreholes. Other proposed sites are the Nevada Test Site, Hanford, the Idaho National Laboratory, and the Savannah River Site. The draft statement also states that some non-DOE sites might be considered, but no such site is identified.
The draft statement does not include the alternative suggested by many people from around the country in 2007. That alternative is “Hardened On-Site Storage” (HOSS) in which the Greater-than-Class-C waste and irradiated spent fuel would remain at commercial nuclear power plants in long-term storage so that they can be monitored. Keeping the waste in HOSS would reduce the risk of accidents or a terrorist attack during transport.
Advocates say that DOE should not proceed with a final environmental impact statement, but instead should develop a new draft statement that includes HOSS facilities as the best solution for this hot waste for decades to come.
For more information and to read the fact sheet, please visit the CCNS website at < http://www.nuclearactive.org/news/041511.html >. DOE information is available at < http://www.gtcceis.anl.gov > .
Please see our public comment attached here