For California Residents: Letter to CA Energy Commission

California Energy Commission
Media and Public Communications Office
1516 Ninth Street, MS-29
Sacramento, CA 95814-5512

To the Commission:

As a California resident I support the California Energy Commission's (CEC) recommendation to "evaluate the long-term implications associated with the continuing accumulation of spent fuel at California's operating [nuclear power] plants, including a case-by-case evaluation of public safety and ratepayer costs of on-site interim storage of spent fuel versus transporting spent fuel offsite for interim storage."

It is time for California to address how many additional tons of high-level radioactive waste we will be allowed to be stored on our state's earthquake active coastal zones and what legacy this means for our children.

The CEC's Report stated that given, "the high level of uncertainty surrounding the federal waste disposal program, California's utilities will likely be forced to retain spent fuel in storage facilities at currently operating reactor sites for an indefinite period of time." [1] As a resultof the CEC's concerns, I further support an investigation into phasing out the production and limiting the storage of high-level radioactive waste at California's operating nuclear plants by the end of current license terms.

The radioactive waste from the daily operation of Diablo Canyon and San Onofre may place our state at risk for generations, if not forever. These risks are heightened by the recent terrorist attacks in: New York, Madrid, London, Jordan and a possible thwarted attack at a nuclear plant in Sydney, Australia in November 2005.

The CEC and California residents are not alone in concerns regarding the increasing stockpiles of high-level radioactive waste on our nation's coasts and waterways. My support of the CEC recommendation is based on increasing doubts that a permanent disposal facility for high-level radioactive waste at California's operating nuclear plants will ever be available. These doubts have been substaniated by nuclear experts, federal and state oversight agencies and both Republican and Democratic Senators from Nevada and Utah.

· Senator Bennett (R-Utah)declared "I remain committed to fight against any effort to bring spent nuclear fuel to Utah, and firmly believe that this waste should be stored where it currently is until we work out the economics and technology to reprocess it." [2]

· Senator Reid (D-Nevada) said he would no longer stand in the way of Utah lawmakers who are trying to block a nuclear waste complex on the Goshute Indian reservation in their state by having the nearby area designated government-protected wilderness. Reid's announcement came several weeks after Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, pledged in a Senate speech that he was withdrawing his support for the nuclear waste repository the Department of Energy wants to build at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.[3]

· Former NRC Commissioner and Yucca consultant, Victor Gilinsky stated that "Despite enormous expenditure and heavy political backing, the project is in deep trouble. It is caught up in a mess of technical, legal, and managerial problems from which I don't think it is going to extract itself, and as a consequence, I don't think it is ever going to open, not at least if it gets any kind of a fair review. [4]

· Executive Director of the Nevada Office of Nuclear Project, Robert Loux, "I think from our perspective it's safe to say that we believe the Yucca Mountain project is in an advanced state of disintegration, for a whole variety of reasons, and it has a number of obstacles it has to overcome before it can actually go forward, some of which we believe are completely unresolvable for the most part. [5]

Further evidence confirming the public's concern that our state may become one a permanent high-level radioactive waste storage site in perpetuity can be found in the Congressional vote to cut funding for the nation's only proposed permanent site in November 2005. The final figure was also less than the House and the Senate passed during earlier debates. More delays in the oft-delayed project caused lawmakers to curb Yucca Mountain's budget. [6]

The economic risks to California posed by the storage of this highly radioactive fuel should be taken into consideration when performing a cost/benefit study analyzing replacement generation for the Diablo Canyon and San Onofre Nuclear Plants. Reactor communities should be first in line for new clean electric generation facilities, which would provide jobs, taxes, infrastructure and financial benefits that will be lost when this dangerously sited nuclear plant ceases operation.

California's Governor and state legislators should work with the CEC, the CPUC, the CCC, SCE and PG&E to plan for future energy needs and while decreasing our state's risks from a radioactive release due to an act of terrorism, malice or insanity, earthquake or age-related accident.

[1] CEC IEPR September 2005, Nuclear Chapter



[4] 2005 IEPR pages 173-179

[5] ibid. Pages 63-84

[6] (c) 2005 AP Wire and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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