Send a Comment to the US NRC

Dear Friend of NIRS,
If you are like us at NIRS, the only thing you have confidence about radioactive waste is that we need to STOP MAKING IT! Then we need to do everything we can to prevent its release into the cycles of Earth's air, water and soil. Building NEW nuclear power reactors that will make even more radioactive waste is like running off a cliff. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking our comments on its plan to "update" a key rule on radioactive waste known as the "Waste Confidence Decision." Your comments are needed! Click here to send an e-mail to the NRC, or read on to make your own comment.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has, for the last 40+ years, licensed the production of the most radioactive waste in the USA--with no real solution. When it comes to the high-level radioactive waste (a category in which NRC includes so-called "spent" or irradiated fuel rods and also the left-overs from the reprocessing of those rods), NRC has been resting its approval of continuous production of this waste on something it calls the "waste confidence decision." Now NRC is proposing to change the wording of this self-fulfilling lack of a real waste solution that is used to "allow" more waste to be made, minute by minute, every time we "flip the switch." (to see the full Federal Register Notice see:

Originated in 1984, the "decision" said that NRC was "confident" that making irradiated fuel was not a problem because, although no off-site disposal capacity was available, NRC was comfortable affirming that the waste could remain on the site where it was generated for the interim period--projected at that time to be at most 30 years after the expiration of the waste generation license. In 1984 NRC affirmed that there would be "at least one' mined geologic repository ready between 2007--2009. (This IS now 2009; there is no repository, therefore NRC is revisiting its "decision.")

Now NRC wants to change the rule's language to:

Finding 2: The Commission finds reasonable assurance that sufficient
mined geologic repository capacity can reasonably be expected to be available
within 50-60 years beyond the licensed life for operation (which may include
the term of a revised or renewed license) of any reactor to dispose of the
commercial high-level radioactive waste and spent fuel originating in such
reactor and generated up to that time.

Finding 4: The Commission finds reasonable assurance that, if necessary,
spent fuel generated in any reactor can be stored safely without significant
environmental impacts for at least 60 years beyond the licensed life for
operation (which may include the term of a revised or renewed license) of that
reactor in a combination of storage in its spent fuel storage basin and either
onsite or offsite independent spent fuel storage installations.

Does this make you more confident? We don't think so. In fact, we feel downright anxious about the piles of waste sitting at nuclear power sites today -- and see the addition of new nuclear reactors to the US fleet when there is still no "solution" to the waste problem as the reason to declare no confidence!

Click this link to send a short comment to the US NRC
If you prefer to send your own comments -- send them to:
Include reference to the Federal Register Notice: 73 FR 197-- 10/09/2008 Docket ID-2008-0482 and Docket ID-2008-0404

Comment deadline is February 6, 2009

Questions for NIRS? Contact: Diane D'Arrigo, Director Radioactive Waste Project or 301-270-6477