New Map shows Hudson River Valley would be a Corridor for Dangerous High Level Radioactive Nuclear Waste Shipments
Picture huge semi-trailer trucks, barreling down the freeway towering alongside of you. Or coming in the opposite direction on the freeway lanes passing near you. On the trucks are gigantic concrete cylinders. Hundreds of high level nuclear waste shipments like this would cross through New York if plans for the country’s first nuclear waste repository in Nevada move forward. This is high-level nuclear waste from New York State’s nuclear power plants: Ginna, Fitzpatrick Point reactors 1 and 2, Indian Point reactors 2, and 3, and a Department of Energy radioactive waste site at West Valley. All that high level radioactive waste would be shipped on New York’s highways and by-ways–on what is being called the “Fukushima Freeways.”
Today, the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition released maps of the likely routes radioactive shipments would use, joining dozens of environmental and clean energy groups across the country. The groups want state residents to weigh in with Congress about the dangers of this plan to transport irradiated fuel assemblies through communities. According to the map, highly radioactive waste fuel from the Indian Point and other New York nuclear reactors would pass through the state on interstates, railways and barge. Each shipment would contain several times more radioactive material than the Hiroshima bomb blast released, with 20 to 50 tons of irradiated fuel assemblies in each canister. Department of Energy studies completed in the 1990s confirmed that accidents in transporting the waste to Yucca Mountain would be a certainty due to the large number of shipments that would be required. The shipments would also be vulnerable to attack or sabotage along the hundreds or thousands of miles that each cask would travel.
“New York is not ready for mass transportation of nuclear waste” said Susan Shapiro, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, Rockland. “First responders are not trained to handle a rad waste accident. We have all witnessed horrible oil train derailments and explosions in recent months. An accident involving tons of nuclear waste in the New York metropolitan area and across New York State could force thousands of people to evacuate their homes, schools, and businesses and radioactively contaminate dozens of square miles,” Shapiro concluded.
Some in Congress want to force a nuclear waste dump to open in Nevada, over President Obama’s and Nevada’s objections as well as that of the Western Shoshone Nation. The president has defunded the proposed Yucca Mountain repository since 2010, effectively abandoning the controversial project. Nevada believes the site is not suitable for storing nuclear waste and opposes the project. The State also controls land and water rights the federal government would need to complete Yucca Mountain. To overcome this opposition Congress would have to enact a law overriding the state’s rights. Doing so would open the door for massive nuclear waste shipments to begin.
“Congress should support the people of Nevada and protect the 20 million people living within 50 miles of Indian Point and abandon Yucca Mountain,” said Marilyn Elie, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, Westchester. “It is unconscionable to risk the lives of New York residents transporting nuclear waste through our communities, just to dump it at Yucca Mountain, where research shows that it will leak into the groundwater. We need real solutions to nuclear waste, and we are never going to get them until Congress abandons Yucca Mountain. Until then, the waste can be stored more securely where it is now, without putting it on our roads and railways, traveling through our communities,” concluded Elie.
The Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition is calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to oppose Yucca Mountain and develop a scientifically proven, environmentally sound, and socially responsible long-term management plan. The nuclear waste problem can never truly be resolved until nuclear power plants are permanently shut down and stop generating ever more radioactive material. Yucca Mountain cannot hold all of the high level waste currently generated by nuclear reactors across the country. Additional dump sites would need to be created, and the transportation of lethal atomic waste would continue indefinitely. New reactors would further exacerbate the problem as would relicensing old reactors like Indian Point.
There is no good solution to the problem of nuclear waste. We must make the best of an extraordinarily difficult problem that will last for thousands of years.There is no research to support the theory that moving this deadly waste to a centralized location would make it more secure. The safest way to proceed is to empty the spent fuel pools, which are not hardened structures or well protected, and move irradiated fuel assemblies into dry cask storage where they can be monitored more easily and will be less likely to go critical. Communities that hosted the reactors must now be prepared to hold the waste from the electricity that was generated there.