Electricity is a byproduct of creating radioactive waste. The basic concept of a nuclear reactor is to split atoms in order to boil water to move a turbine to create electricity. After a nuclear reactor stops producing electricity, the “spent” nuclear fuel must be managed to prevent contamination to our health and environment. The United States is home to over 60,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel that will remain toxic for over 1,000,000 years.
MCE’s involvement in the NRC’s “Waste Confidence” decision
In June of 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals unanimously decided that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s regulations on storing spent nuclear fuel were inadequate. The Court threw out two regulations, known as Waste Confidence, that:
The Court decision, in throwing out the Waste Confidence regulations, told the NRC it had no environmental finding to license or relicense nuclear reactors under the National Environmental Policy Act. The decision allowed MCE and several other organizations who are challenging the license extensions of nuclear reactors to petition the NRC to stop licensing nuclear reactors. In August of 2012, the NRC agreed with MCE and froze final licensing decisions for new nuclear reactors and license extensions for operating reactors.
While the NRC tries to figure out the least-bad way to store spent nuclear fuel, MCE advocates that the waste piling up at Callaway 1 be moved to dry casks and secured in hardened shelter. Transporting toxic wastes to an “interim” storage site increases the chance of an accident and it will still need to be transported to a final repository. It’s more practical to secure the toxic wastes on-site and transport it directly to a final repository.
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