Letter to the Editor: Radioactive Waste at Indian Point — Keep it Where It Is!

[Ed. Note > Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen will address the Decommissioning Oversight Board in person on April 25 from 6 pm-8:30 pm at Cortlandt Town Hall, 1 Heady Street 10567.  He will be addressing the storage of tritiated water, about which Indian Point Nuclear decommissioning company Holtec has filed a lawsuit.]

The high level radioactive waste stored at Indian Point is in exactly the right place and it needs to stay there.

There is no research to indicate that a large national repository is any safer than on ite storage where the waste was produced.

It is understandable that many Buchanan residents want to see it go away. Nobody wants dangerous radioactive waste in their back yard. Unfortunately, there is no place for it to go.  Moving it would mean  contaminating another community and all those along the route to another place.

Buchanan is not alone.  Communities that hosted nuclear power plants and reaped the tax benefits and other perks are now de facto custodians of this waste — like it or not. In Buchanan, financial aid has been made available to help offset the revenue formerly  provided by the nuclear power plant. The concrete casks will be taxed. Does this make the village whole? Of course not. After years of dancing, it is now time to pay the piper. It is difficult and painful.

Holtec lied when they said they would move the fuel rods.  They ignored the law and Buchanan gladly believed them. The Atomic Energy Act forbids consolidated interim storage until the establishment of a permanent repository. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission exceeded its authority when it said the storage by Holtec met safety requirements. The Fifth Circuit Court of appeals made this very clear. Their decision will be appealed and the matter settled in court eventually.

In the meantime there has been talk among some Republicans in Congress to revive the original national radioactive dump in Nevada, Yucca Mountain.

Some points to consider…

  1. Consent on the part of the receiving community is necessary.  Nevada is adamantly opposed.

  2. Should that change, transportation from New York to Nevada would be dangerous on our antiquated local roads, rails and barges.

  3. Yucca Mountain is an abandoned construction site. When I was there, water was running down the walls of the tunnel and the site experienced an earthquake. The most recent scientific studies say the location is not acceptable for long-term storage of high level radioactive waste.

  4. It would take decades to revive Yucca Mountain and there is nothing to say that the waste from Indian Point would go there right away. Many other sites would also be clamoring for storage.

  5. All of the high level waste generated at reactors across the country will not fit into Yucca Mountain.  There is just too much of it.  So, where will the second repository go and after that the third and so on. As long as nuclear power plants operate they generate high-level radioactive waste. We have not been able to successfully cite one high level radioactive dump — what about the others that will be required down the road?

The only sensible answer is to stop splitting atoms to boil water.  The only reason Holtec is interested in bringing the worn-out Palisades reactor back on line is the enormous subsidies they will receive from the Department of Energy — billions of dollars are up for grabs. Take away the subsidies and see how quickly Holtec and other companies lose interest.

We need generating sources for electricity that are cheap, easy and quick to install and clean. Nuclear does not fit the bill in any of these categories.

Marilyn Elie
Cortlandt Manor
Indian Point Clean Energy Coalition

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